This headline may shock you.
Canada has now banned conversion therapy and Steinbach has played an odd role in the resolution of this issue. But not the role you might think. After three tries the government of Canada formally banned conversion therapy by amending the Criminal Code of Canada.
Those techniques can range from talk and behavioral therapy to medical treatments. These treatments though widely endorsed by conservatives have been discredited by major medical associations in many countries as well as the United Nations, World Health Organization, Amnesty International and other groups. Critics of this so-called therapy, say it causes harm to its victims and is based on the faulty assumption that sexual orientation and gender identity can or should be “cured.”
Many conservatives believe that people really are cisgender and should be left that way. Cisgender is a term used to describe a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth. In other words, God never makes mistakes so humans should not intervene. Except that humans can intervene to keep people heterosexual. After years of debate, Canada has entered the fray with legislation.
As Christine Hauser reported in the New York Times:
“This is an incredibly important step to making sure queer and trans people in Canada feel valid and deserving of full protection,” said Michael Kwag, a policy director at the Community-Based Research Center in Toronto, which researches the health of people of diverse sexualities and genders.
“It also sends a strong message to the entire country that any attempt to change, deny or suppress the identity of queer and trans people is wrong,” he said in an interview.
The Code has a very specific and interesting definition of conversion therapy as follows:
Definition of conversion therapy
320.101 In sections 320.102 to 320.104, conversion therapy means a practice, treatment or service designed to
- (a)change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual;
- (b)change a person’s gender identity to cisgender;
- (c)change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth;
- (d)repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour;
- (e)repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or
- (f)repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.
For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration or development of an integrated personal identity — such as a practice, treatment or service that relates to a person’s gender transition — and that is not based on an assumption that a particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is to be preferred over another.
It is noteworthy that consent of the patient is no defence! In other words, the government of Canada considers that it should be an offence to commit any acts that are “designed” to make such changes in gender. Everyone who knowingly causes another person to undergo such “therapy” is guilty of the offence. As well everyone who knowingly promotes or advertises such “therapy” is guilty of the offence as well. Finally, everyone who receives a financial or material benefit from the provision of such services is also guilty of the offence.
The bill that enacted the new law said such “therapy” harms society because “it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.” Wow! Canada has come a long way!
But the most amazing thing was this new law received unanimous consent in Parliament! How was that possible? Where was Steinbach’s Member of Parliament Ted Falk? It turns out he was asleep.
Falk was concerned about the effects of this legislation on religious freedom, such as whether a pastor could be charged if asked to speak to a person about gender identity. I don’t complain about such concerns, I just wish Falk also showed some concern about the long history of discrimination against trans people by members of the religious community. On that he had little to say. Frankly, I think that is much more relevant.
Falk knows where his voters come from in the Bible belt of Manitoba. I was surprised by the international attention shown to this as evidenced by reporting of National Public Radio and the New York Times in the US. The Times even mentioned Steinbach’s Member of Parliament Ted Falk. Wow! The Times noted that the bill was passed through a unanimous consent motion in the House of Commons on December 1, 2021 followed by the Senate on December 7th.
Amazingly Conservatives who had opposed previous versions of the bill then embraced the 3rd version. Yet “our” Ted Falk was not happy about what happened. This is how the New York Times reported on Falk’s activities:
“But some legislators were dismayed. Ted Falk, a Conservative member of Parliament from Manitoba, said he and other conservatives were “blindsided” by the fast-tracked bill that disregarded written viewpoints and concerns.
In a Facebook post on Dec. 17, he said there was no sign of a consensus or final decision had been reached before the motion was unexpectedly presented just as everyone was rising, giving no time for objections.”
“There were about four seconds in which any one of us could have voiced an objection and, in all honesty, before I could process what was happening, the motion had been passed,” he wrote on Facebook.
I am not so sure that Falk and the other Conservatives were blind-sided. Perhaps Falk was just trying hard to spin a narrative that his supporters in our Bible Belt might accept. Perhaps Conservatives voted for the motion thinking it would be passed anyway and wanted to rush home for Christmas. How could both the House of Commons and the Senate give unanimous consent with Ted Falk as our representative? Personally, I found this aspect of the case highly amusing. I would like to know what really went on.
In any event, thanks to the conservatives napping on the job, Canada joined at least a dozen countries banning this heinous practice much loved by evangelicals. Those countries included France, Germany, Malta, Ecuador, India, and 20 American states!
I love it.