City of Vancouver urged to ban homophobic conversion therapy

The BC Humanist Association urges the City of Vancouver to adopt a recommendation from the City's LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee to prohibit "conversion therapy" within the city.

According to Xtra, the committee's recommendation passed unanimously in November and calls for the city to amend a licensing bylaw to prohibit any services that "purport to alter an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity."

Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific practice used in some conservative religious communities to "cure" a person of homosexuality or gender dysphoria. It has been discredited by the Pan American Health Organization, the Canadian Psychological Association and other mainstream medical bodies.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

So-called "conversion therapy" is a dangerous and damaging practice that has no place in contemporary society. Ontario and Manitoba have taken steps to restrict or outright ban the practice and Vancouver now has the chance to take a clear stance on this issue.

As Peter Gajdics' experience shows, these practices are not restricted to the US Bible Belt but can and do happen here in Canada and in British Columbia.

Write to Vancouver City Council in support of the LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee's recommendation.

Peter Gajdics will be speaking at our Vancouver Sunday Meeting on Sunday, February 11.

Banner credit: Wikimedia/Another Believer

The Committee's motion reads:


  1. The City of Vancouver (the “City”) is committed to being a safe and welcoming community for LGBTQ2+ individuals, as demonstrated by the adoption and ongoing implementation by the City and the Park Board of a Trans, Gender Variant, and Two Spirit Inclusion Policy and the Vancouver School Board Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Policy.
  2. The practice of so-called “Conversion Therapy” (also referred to as “Reparative Therapy”) - by which pseudoscientific practices are used with intentions of converting an individual’s sexuality or gender identity into alignment with the heterosexual and cisgender majority - can cause profound and lasting trauma to survivors. As written in the Pan American Health Organization (a branch of the World Health Organization), it is “critical to prevent the application of theories and models that view homosexuality as a ‘deviation’ or a choice that can be modified through ‘will power’ or supposed ‘therapeutic support’” (Pan American Health Organization-World Health Organization, 2012).
  3. These practices have been rejected as baseless and damaging by the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Counselling Association.
  4. In its policy statement opposing “Conversion Therapy” practices, the Canadian Psychological Association states: “Scientific research does not support the efficacy of conversion or reparative therapy (Haldeman, 1994; Spitzer, 2012; see Anton, 2010). Conversion or reparative therapy can result in negative outcomes such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction (e.g., Haldeman, 2001; Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002; Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; Glassgold et al., 2009).”
  5. “Conversion Therapy” is an umbrella term meant to include a spectrum of practices not always referred to as “Conversion Therapy”. These practises can range from religious rites, behavioural modification or medication, to electroshock therapy or lobotomy. While its practise may take a variety of forms, the psychological damage, deliberately imposed self-loathing, and other impacts have lasting effects on survivors.
  6. The Province of Ontario, in 2015, adopted the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act to protect minors from being subjected to “Conversion Therapy” and to prohibit practitioners from billing “Conversion Therapy” through public health insurance. Furthermore, the province of Manitoba in 2015 has passed a health regulation banning “Conversion Therapy”. Nine American states, and twenty-seven American municipalities, counties, and communities including Seattle, Miami, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati have banned the practice.
  7. The City of Vancouver currently has License By-law No. 4450 that regulates how entities operate in order to “protect public health and safety” and furthermore to “protect vulnerable populations” such as youth, as well as sexual and gender minorities.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Committee recommends that Council puts forward amendments to the City By-laws including License By-law No. 4450 to prohibit the provision of “conversion therapy” services and those services that purport to alter an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity by entities licensed by the City of Vancouver.

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