The Liberal government’s bill to ban conversion therapy has passed in the House of Commons and will now go on to the Senate.
A motion to accept Bill C-4 without amendment was presented by Conservative MP Rob Moore and was adopted unanimously by MPs on Dec. 1.
During the previous Parliament, 62 Conservative MPs had opposed the bill, which died when the Liberal government dissolved Parliament and called an election on Aug. 15.
Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole had said he would allow a free vote on the new bill, the Canadian Press had reported, but no MP opposed the bill this time around.
During the last Parliament, some Conservative MPs had expressed concern about the far-reaching definition of conversion therapy included in the legislation, saying it could criminalize conversations between parents and children or religious leaders and congregants.
Bill C-4 is tougher compared to the one introduced in the last Parliament, prohibiting the practice even for consenting adults.
The new bill defines conversion therapy as a “practice, treatment or service” meant to “change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual”; “change a person’s gender identity to cisgender”; “change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth”; “repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour”; “repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity”; or “repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.”
The bill makes it illegal to cause “another person to undergo conversion therapy”; to do “anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada”; to promote or advertise conversion therapy; and to receive a financial or “other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.”
An individual who knowingly causes another person to undergo conversion therapy can be imprisoned for up to five years, whereas someone who promotes or advertises it can be imprisoned for up to two years.
With files from The Canadian Press