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B.C. Green Party leader tables bill to ban conversion therapy for minors

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VICTORIA, British Columbia, May 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver tabled a bill on Monday that will ban conversion therapy for individuals under age 19.

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act also forbids health professionals from billing B.C.’s health plan for conversion therapy, the Vancouver Sun reported.

If Bill M-218 passes, British Columbia will become the fourth province after Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia to outlaw conversion or reparative therapy, which aims to help individuals overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

The bill defines conversion therapy as “counselling, behaviour modification techniques or the administration or prescription of medication or any other practice, treatment or service provided with the purported objective of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression or identity.”

Explicitly excluded from that definition are “services that provide acceptance, support or understanding of a person or that facilitate a person’s coping, social support or identity exploration or development.”

Also explicitly excluded in the bill’s definition of conversion therapy is “a gender-affirming surgery or any related event.”

While numerous former homosexual persons, such as Angel Colon and Drew Berryessa, attest that conversion therapy improved their lives, Canada’s media, health care professionals, and many in public life almost universally advance the view that the practice is harmful and unscientific.

“This bill will bring an end to the abhorrent practice of so-called conversion therapy,” and so “protect the health and safety of LGBTQ rights,” Weaver said at a press conference unveiling his bill, the Vancouver Sun reported.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert noted at the press conference that Weaver’s bill will codify “current practice into law.”

B.C. has never funded or permitted conversion therapy, and any health professional who tried to bill health care for the practice would be guilty of fraud, the ministry of Health told the Vancouver Sun in a statement.

Moreover, no provincial bodies that regulate psychologists, physiatrists, physicians and other medical professionals recognize conversion therapy as legitimate, and would discipline members found offering it, the ministry said.

The B.C. Psychiatric Association described conversion therapy as “an abusive practice” in a statement to the Vancouver Sun.

Weaver says he will seek all-party support to pass his member’s bill after the legislature, which adjourns for the summer on Thursday, resumes sitting in October.

The Green Party’s three MLAs hold the balance of power in the provincial legislature after their May 2017 agreement with the NDP that toppled the former Liberal government. The NDP have 41 seats, the Liberals 42 seats. and there Is one Independent.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s United Conservative Party is under fire for the demise of a working group set up by former NDP Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman to advise her on banning conversion therapy.

In response, Health Minister Tyler Shandro stated his government did not disband the group, but that it lapsed after the UCP won a majority in April. He said members of the group are free to keep meeting and he’d be glad to hear what they have to say.

Weaver pointed to the situation in Alberta as evidence his bill was timely.

“The direction Alberta is going in is the wrong direction for Canadian society,” he said, as reported in the Edmonton Journal. “It’s so regressive.”

A number of states and municipal districts have also banned conversion therapy for minors, which pro-family advocates say is controversial in large part because it challenges the notion that sexual attraction is biologically rooted and unchangeable.

Stephen Black of the Restored Hope Network, who left the homosexual lifestyle more than 30 years ago, testified in Illinois in 2015 that conversion therapy is little more than “pastoral care for people who want to come out of homosexuality.”

Banning it for minors “would be tragic” and “a form of child abuse,” Black said.

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