OTTAWA, Ontario, February 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a recent parliamentary session on a bill relating to sexual offenses against children, psychology experts claimed that pedophilia is a “sexual orientation” comparable to homosexuality or heterosexuality, a definition that was questioned by one Member of Parliament who was present. 

Bill C-54, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code, seeks to increase or impose mandatory minimum penalties or punishment on sexual offenders of children for particular crimes.

Parliamentary discussion on February 14 centered on the mandatory minimum imprisonment and how offenders respond to treatment.  Dr. Vernon Quinsey and Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem, experts on the issue, were called to witness.

“When we speak of therapy or when individuals get therapy and we feel as though everyone is pacified, the good news is often illusory,” said Van Gijseghem, psychologist and retired professor of the University of Montreal. 

“Pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offence from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality,” emphasized Van Gijseghem.

“True pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation.  You cannot change this person’s sexual orientation.” He added, however: “He may however remain abstinent.”

MP Serge Ménard later praised the witnesses.  “Mr. Van Gijseghem and Mr. Quinsey,” said Ménard, “corrected some of our impressions.”

However, MP Marc Lemay of the Bloc Quebecois challenged Van Gijseghem’s definition.  “I have to admit that I was not expecting, on this Valentine’s Day, to be talking about this inappropriate type of love. It is not really love. It has more to do with violence and control. I am concerned, Professor Van Gijseghem … because you say, if I am not mistaken, that pedophilia is a sexual orientation.”

“That is what I said,” continued Van Gijseghem.

Lemay pursued the point, asking if it therefore should “be compared to homosexuality.”

“Yes, or heterosexuality,” responded Van Gijseghem. “If, for instance, you were living in a society where heterosexuality is proscribed or prohibited and you were told that you had to get therapy to change your sexual orientation, you would probably say that that is slightly crazy. In other words, you would not accept that at all. I use this analogy to say that, yes indeed, pedophiles do not change their sexual orientation.”

During his witness, Quinsey, professor emeritus of psychology at Queen’s University, said that pedophiles’ “sexual interests” “prefer prepubescent children.”  “There is no evidence,” he said, “that this sort of preference can be changed through treatment or through anything else.”

“You can manage the risk that sex offenders present - even pedophiles,” added Quinsey, “It’s not necessarily that they need to change their sexual orientation; they need to learn to control themselves, with our help.”

“In my opinion, society and no one around this table will accept pedophilia, even if it is a sexual orientation,” said Lemay,  “I recall a period, not too long ago, when homosexuality was treated as an illness. It is now accepted, society has accepted it … I cannot imagine pedophilia being accepted in 2011. You are telling me that even if we were to impose a five-year minimum on people it would not solve the problem. Once they get out of jail, they reoffend. That is worrisome.”

One columnist in the Toronto Sun, Brian Lilley, expressed shock at Van Gijseghem’s testimony: “what really shocked me was the Universite de Montreal professor, Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem, who showed up to tell MPs pedophilia was a sexual orientation just like heterosexuality or homosexuality.”  He argued that “it’s time to take our country back by ignoring the ‘experts.’”

Contact information for Members of Parliament

To read the entire parliamentary session, click here.