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View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
Good morning, everybody. I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 15 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, October 28, 2020, the committee is meeting on its study of Bill C-6.
This is a hybrid format meeting. Members Mr. Cooper and Madam Findlay are with me here in the room and other members will be joining virtually.
I will remind you and the witnesses to unmute your mike when it's your turn to speak and to speak slowly and clearly so that the interpreters can do their work.
You have the option of picking your language. At the bottom of your screen for language Interpretation you can pick “English”, “French”, or “floor” for your better communication.
If you're not speaking, I would ask that you please put your microphone on mute.
The clerk and I will do our best to make sure that this meeting is run in an orderly fashion. Please address all questions and comments through the chair and we'll have a good meeting.
Today we are joined by a number of witnesses whom I would like to welcome.
Appearing as an individual we have Colette Aikema.
Appearing from the organization No Conversion Canada we have Nicholas Schiavo, who is the founder, and Peter Gajdics, who is a writer and advocate.
Peter, I hope you'll correct my pronunciation of your name when it's your turn to speak.
We also have, representing the Canadian Association of Social Workers, Joan Davis-Whelan, who is the president, and Alexandra Zannis, social policy and communications coordinator.
Last, we have the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms represented by Lisa Bildy, who is a barrister and solicitor.
Each of you will have five minutes to speak. We'll start with Colette Aikema for five minutes.
Go ahead, please.
Colette Aikema
View Colette Aikema Profile
Colette Aikema
2020-12-08 11:05
Thank you so much, members of Parliament, for inviting me to present to you today.
My name is Colette and I'm from Lethbridge, Alberta. I am a mom, a wife, and I have three of the world's most beautiful children.
I'm here today to tell you about how counselling helped me survive terrible trauma. Despite the government's assurances, my life-saving counselling would become illegal if Bill C-6 is passed, and that's why I think it's so important for you to hear my story.
When I was a child, I was abused. Because of it, I struggled for many years with sexual behaviour and attractions that I did not want. I compulsively masturbated. I had intrusive gay fantasies and rape fantasies. My developing attractions and behaviours got worse after I was gang-raped as a teenager. Three men who I knew raped me and damaged my sexual well-being. This horrible moment led to even worse sexual problems, like the use of pornography that involved rape and rape fantasies, both heterosexual and non-heterosexual, behaviours that severely distressed me.
This trauma negatively impacted my sexual intimacy with my husband. I had difficulty with even casual relationships because they triggered an urge to seek out sexually addictive behaviours, both gay and straight. I saw the world through a lens of sexual pain and confusion, and life became unbearable.
Thankfully, I found support in two places, from a University of Lethbridge counsellor whose service I paid for, and a faith-based sex addiction group. Both helped reduce my non-heterosexual behaviour, and the support saved my marriage, my sanity and my life.
The government has argued that Bill C-6 will not ban the counselling I received, because it exempts the exploration of a person's identity or its development, but I need to make this clear. I was not interested in exploring my non-heterosexual attractions and behaviours or its development, as I knew where they came from. I needed to reduce these behaviours.
Both my secular counsellor and my faith-based support group are a practice, treatment or service that helped me repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour, and under Bill C-6, this life-saving treatment that I freely chose would be criminal.
Even if the government says this bill won't ban my counselling experience, groups like No Conversion Canada, who will be speaking after me, have already publicly stated on social media that they intend to use conversion therapy bans to attempt to shut down the kind of counselling that I received and to shut down the groups that support my right to counselling.
There are many legitimate reasons why someone may want to reduce their sexual attractions or behaviour, whether they be gay or straight, and those reasons are not for the government to decide.
In fact, there's no professional body in North America that includes the phrase “reducing non-heterosexual behaviours” in their definition of conversion therapy. Even the Canadian Association of Social Workers, who will be speaking after me, define it the same way as the Canadian Psychological Association as a reparative therapy, not just any practice that attempts to change the sexual orientation of bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals to heterosexual. That definition does not mention reducing non-heterosexual behaviour by consenting patients.
Professional counselling organizations recognize that it is not the job of the therapist to set the outcome for the patients. If professional counsellors do not set the outcomes of therapy, why does the government? In fact, isn't conversion therapy wrong because it forces an outcome on someone?
If Bill C-6 is passed, isn't it then forcing an outcome on me? Isn't Bill C-6 then a form of conversion therapy on victims like me?
When Lethbridge passed a similarly worded bylaw, the public was denied a chance to speak to it, and after it passed, I spoke to a city councillor about my story. Only then did he admit that they had not considered people like me when passing their bylaw.
I am speaking to you now so that you can avoid making the same mistake. Consider the thousands of other women who are raped and need help. Don't they deserve to get the counselling that will help them achieve their goals?
I'm now happily married and a mother. I know those of you who are parents worry about your kids like I do. If they're ever in trouble, I want to make sure they have access to the same life-saving care that I paid for.
Make this bill better by adopting the definition of conversion therapy used by actual professional bodies. This will ensure that this government is not forcing outcomes on patients and instead is recognizing the diversity of our lived experiences.
Thank you so much for your time. I'm available for questions.
Nicholas Schiavo
View Nicholas Schiavo Profile
Nicholas Schiavo
2020-12-08 11:10
Good morning, and thank you to the honourable members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and all those who have made this appearance possible.
My name is Nicholas Schiavo, and I'm the founder of No Conversion Canada. No Conversion Canada is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots and volunteer-led coalition of conversion therapy survivors, LGBTQ2 individuals, civil society experts, academics and Canadians from coast to coast. We work to eradicate conversion therapy abuse, amplify the voices of survivors and protect the safety of LGBTQ2 Canadians.
Since 2018, we have worked with stakeholders and policy-makers across Canada to develop bylaws and legislation to end this torture.
I am here today to support this human rights legislation and to provide insight and facts to strengthen Bill C-6 for the safety of all Canadians.
I am honoured to be here with a pioneer in this movement, a survivor, author and advocate, Mr. Peter Gajdics, whom I will now cede the rest of my time to.
Peter Gajdics
View Peter Gajdics Profile
Peter Gajdics
2020-12-08 11:11
Thank you.
Madam Chair, my name is Peter Gajdics. I'm here to make recommendations for Bill C-6 based on my lived experience. I went through six years of conversion therapy with a licensed psychiatrist when I was a legal adult between 1989 and 1995. I was 24 years old when I met this doctor, 31 years old when it ended.
I'm the author of the book The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir about my years in this therapy and my road to recovery. For the past 23 years I have spoken out about conversion therapy. In 2018 I helped initiate the first Canadian municipal ban on conversion therapy in Vancouver, my home city.
I had already come out as gay before I met this psychiatrist. After starting counselling with him, he told me that my history of childhood sexual abuse had created a false homosexual identity and so my therapy's goal would be to heal old trauma in order, as he said, to correct the error of my sexual orientation and revert to my innate heterosexuality.
His methods then included prolonged sessions of primal scream therapy, multiple psychiatric medications to suppress my homosexual desires, injections of ketamine hydrochloride followed by re-parenting sessions to heal my broken masculinity, and when none of his methods worked, aversion therapy.
At their highest dosages he was prescribing near-fatal levels of these medications and I overdosed. I still consider it a miracle I didn't die. I left these six years shell-shocked. It was not so much that I wanted to kill myself as I thought I was already dead.
I later sued the doctor for medical malpractice. He denied treating me in order to change my sexual orientation. He claimed I had consented to his treatment. He said he had treated me for depression.
I imagine some will view my experiences as extreme, that it couldn't happen again today, except these are the exact words I've heard for over 20 years. As I write in my book, the horror of it all provokes disbelief. Though the facts of my treatment will differ from others', I believe the basic principles about fraudulent practice combined with a client's vulnerability, trust and lack of informed consent, will always apply to all, even today.
Currently there are no federal laws that would prohibit what happened to me with another legal adult, or even that could hold a similar practitioner accountable for his actions.
These are my recommendations for Bill C-6. The ban must be for all ages.
Banning conversion therapy is about ending a fraudulent practice that causes harm. This applies to all.
The ban should not include the word “will” or any suggestion of coercion. Suggesting coercion or the idea of forced conversion therapy, or even mentioning the will of the client, makes it sound as if conversion therapy could be anything other than coercive. It deflects attention away from the fraudulence and harm of these practices and to the actions of the client, their supposed willingness or consent to participate.
All forms of conversion therapy are inherently coercive and exist solely as a form of oppression over LGBT people. To imply otherwise is to invalidate the experience of survivors. Proper informed consent is not possible in these circumstances because all of these treatments are based on the false premise, the lie, that a person is broken by virtue of being gay or trans and that they can and ought to be changed. To suggest that a person could consent to such a thing is to say that they choose to do to themselves what has been done to them from the start. It is illogical and defeats the purpose of the bill.
Please ban conversion therapy for all, including adults.
Thank you.
Joan Davis-Whelan
View Joan Davis-Whelan Profile
Joan Davis-Whelan
2020-12-08 11:15
Thank you.
Good morning. My name is Joan Davis-Whelan, and I'm the president of the Canadian Association of Social Workers. We represent over 20,000 social workers across Canada.
It is my privilege and honour to be here today to provide witness to this historic legislation that will serve to protect all children and youth from those who are unaccepting of their inherent dignity and worth.
The Canadian Association of Social Workers enthusiastically applauds and provides unwavering support to all parliamentarians for their support of Bill C-6. We call for Parliament, the House of Commons and Senate of Canada, to put the safety and security of children and youth first by unanimously supporting and expediting this legislation into law. Any further delay in passing this reintroduced legislation is unacceptable. Not one more child or youth in Canada should endure the harm of this damaging and discredited attack against their persons.
I would now like to take a moment to thank the individuals who bravely stepped forward to share their stories of lived experience in enduring the harm inflicted by conversion therapy. Due to their relentless advocacy and commitment to protecting others, the vision of a Canada without legal conversion therapy will soon be realized.
In 2018, CASW released a position statement, in partnership with the Canadian Psychological Association, strongly condemning all forms of conversion therapy. Conversion or reparative therapy can take many forms, but can be broadly defined as any therapy with the goal of changing or converting an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of age.
It is important to note that this so-called therapy is not evidence-based. It is completely discredited and causes extraordinary harm, especially amongst Canada's children and youth.
We now definitively know, and have heard time and time again, that conversion therapy directly contributes to two-spirited and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing disproportionate and alarming rates of mental health problems. Homelessness, poverty, violence and substance use result from this practice.
CASW would like to thank the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada as well as the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth for including the voice of the social work profession during the process of developing this bill.
Notwithstanding our steadfast support of this bill, CASW encourages this committee to adopt the key recommendations of the guide for legislative action for conversion therapy in Canada. CASW endorses the revised guide. Its recommendations are needed to strengthen this legislation to protect all people from this discredited form of fraudulent therapy.
I will now pass it over to my colleague, Alexandra Zannis, to provide CASW's recommendations.
Alexandra Zannis
View Alexandra Zannis Profile
Alexandra Zannis
2020-12-08 11:18
Thank you to this committee for asking us to come here today.
As listed in our written submission, CASW strongly urges the following amendments to strengthen Bill C-6:
First, CASW recommends that the bill be amended to include gender expression.
Second, any language focused on the issue of consent or coercion is misdirected as this wording could create a significant loophole limiting the protective effect of this proposed law by claiming an individual can consent to a therapy that has been deemed psychologically harmful.
Third, in its current state, the bill implies that conversion therapy may be dangerous and harmful to minors, but not necessarily to adults. It is harmful to all people.
Fourth, any federal legislation should also revoke the charitable status, if held, of any organization that promotes, advertises or practices any form of conversion therapy.
Fifth, CASW strongly supports investing in a survivors' fund to access reparations and supports for those who have experienced this practice.
Finally, CASW advocates that funding accompany this bill for education and awareness campaigns highlighting the need to officially end all conversion therapy practices in Canada.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
Lisa Bildy
View Lisa Bildy Profile
Lisa Bildy
2020-12-08 11:20
Thank you.
I am a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Objectively harmful coercive practices that are designed to change a person's sexual orientation, as we've just heard, should be banned. That is what Canadians think of when they hear the phrase “conversion therapy”. But when it comes to gender identity, improperly conflated with sexual orientation in this bill, what we think we are talking about and what activists mean and are pushing for are not the same.
By conversion, they mean talk therapy or watchful waiting to help a child or adolescent become comfortable in their own body or that addresses other mental health concerns or past traumas, something that about 85% of them will do if given that space. That is what they want banned on pain of criminal sanction.
When they say “affirmation” they mean rejecting the body a child was born in and embarking on a path of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, multiple surgeries, and a lifetime of medication and dire consequences such as sterility and loss of sexual function. A whole industry is developing around this conversion of kids, and it is being encouraged through the influence of gender activists on social media and even in our schools.
Yes, that is the real conversion here that is endorsed and supported by this bill. The LGB Alliance Canada report, which I implore you to read, speaks of lesbians and gays saying to each other in whispered conversations, “Thank God I am not a gay kid growing up right now. If I had been, there's no question that I would have identified as transgender and been sent for sexual reassignment.”
Yet we have to pretend that talk therapy and a cautious measured approach is the danger. A free society that supports individual rights, as Canada is supposed to be, would allow parents, children and health professionals to find the best path for each unique child, not have the state preordain that transition is the only permissible option.
It is not for the government to dictate such outcomes, and doing so in our submission contravenes the rights of parents and children guaranteed under section 7 of the charter. The bill needs to remove gender identity entirely.
Other countries are beginning to realize the horrors that have unfolded from allowing and encouraging kids to self-diagnose at the behest of gender ideologues. Progressive Sweden has shifted course dramatically just in the last few months, and in the United Kingdom we are seeing positive signs of this.
The Keira Bell case last week was groundbreaking. It confirmed what many parents, therapists and other medical professionals have been warning about for years: The affirmation bandwagon puts kids on an irreversible path to permanent changes that will adversely impact their physical health, bone density and other complications and likely cause them sterility and an inability to experience sexual pleasure. The court reviewed the evidence with some horror and concluded that once children go on puberty blockers, they almost invariably proceed through all the stages of transition, and that children under 16, and those likely under 18, cannot possibly provide informed consent to those consequences.
Canada is going in the wrong direction. We're being steamrolled by an aggressive ideology that changes our language, undermines our usual safeguards relating to children, demonizes as bigots those who are cautious, refuses to consider evidence that counters the approved narrative, and demands complete fealty on pain of social cancellation.
Standing up to this is not transphobic. It is being child-centric and rational and it is necessary. It in no way prevents adults who wish to transition from doing so, or even children whose parents and a licensed health professional think transition is the best outcome for that child. But it isn't the right outcome for all children.
I was surprised to learn yesterday that the committee would not be hearing from important voices like LGB Alliance Canada and Detrans Canada. Detransitioners are ignored because they shatter the narrative. The preamble to the bill says that it's a myth that people can change their gender, but those who have detransitioned are proof that either their gender can be changed or that what some young people go through when they say they are transgender is indeed a phase that they might simply outgrow.
Detransitioners are usually homosexual, mostly young people who have gone through medical transition and have some serious regrets. Many self-diagnosed as having gender dysphoria as minors and subsequently accessed irreversible hormone blockers, cross-sex hormones and double mastectomy without any form of psychological assessment, all by the age of 16.
I invited a member of Detrans Canada to share my time today, but that was not allowed. They have three major concerns with the bill as written, which I share.
Affirming every single patient with gender distress or confusion as trans, including medical transition, will definitely result in more detransitioners in the long term.
It will be illegal for mental health professionals to support detransitioners because they do not seek affirmation, but wish to reconcile with their sex.
Minors who have experienced medical malpractice through unnecessary medical transition will have no course for redress because service providers will cite Bill C-6, which mandates affirmation as the only legal treatment.
I encourage members, as part of their due diligence in considering this bill, to read their excellent submissions and testimonials, as well as those of LGB Canada. It’s important to make fully informed decisions and get this right.
Thank you.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all of our witnesses.
It's certainly an interesting panel, because we have a real diversity of views on what is an important bill. I think we start from the premise that conversion therapy in Canada and in some of the situations that have been expressed even on this panel is completely unacceptable, and there is goodwill on all sides of this debate about banning harmful practices.
I also think that some of the commentary we heard in the opening remarks illustrates perfectly why we need to get this definition right.
I heard one comment that we should remove the charitable status of those practising conversion therapy. We're dealing with the Criminal Code here. Criminal sanctions and removing charitable status are very serious consequences, which is why, as the justice committee, we have to get this definition of what is conversion therapy right. This definition is not a boilerplate we can take from some other legislation, because the definition the government provides has not been used anywhere else in government or seemingly by anyone else anywhere, so that raises concerns. We're looking at new language and we have to make sure the language is right.
Lisa Bildy, your submission to the justice committee states that the definition of conversion therapy is overbroad and as a result does not adequately prohibit harmful practices. Can you elaborate on that?
I'm looking at the definition and it states:
designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour.
If that definition is problematic, could you explain to the committee how you feel it is so?
Lisa Bildy
View Lisa Bildy Profile
Lisa Bildy
2020-12-08 11:28
It puts people on a one-way path here. I'm speaking specifically of gender identity, because it allows only transition to the opposite gender, essentially. It specifically prohibits any efforts to return to or remain cisgender, so it prohibits a whole range of therapies, approaches and desires of individuals that should be legally allowed and that a health professional might reasonably recommend.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
One of the talking points we've heard from the government on this repeatedly is that this bill would not criminalize non-coercive, voluntary counselling, such as between a pastor or a faith-based counsellor and a congregant in a church context. Given the government claims that this legislation will protect these conversations, I'm wondering if you could explain whether you feel this would be true in practice given the current definition of conversion therapy in the bill.
When the minister was here, he said things in his opening remarks when he introduced the bill and there are things that are said on the Justice Department website with regard to what this bill would or wouldn't do, but the plain definition as it's written does not make clear that the bill will do exactly what the justice minister said it will. Can you speak to that situation that the minister claims is not captured by this bill but that, I remain concerned, could be captured by the bill?
Lisa Bildy
View Lisa Bildy Profile
Lisa Bildy
2020-12-08 11:29
Right. The fact that so many people have remained concerned that it might be captured means that it's not clear and that it needs to be much more clearly drafted.
I was also concerned to hear Minister Lametti say that legitimate conversations would not be caught up in this bill. Who is defining what is legitimate and what isn't legitimate? Is that something that is going to be determined by activists? I think that people will be targeted when they engage in any of these kinds of conversations. If anyone finds out about it, they will be targeted. That's the world we live in. If it isn't exceedingly obvious and clear in the bill, then people will face sanctions for that.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
That brings me to another point.
The minister has referenced these words that he claims describe what the bill does. The website describes what the bill purports to do, but as a lawyer, you and I know that if someone is being charged under Criminal Code legislation, a judge is going to look at what's in the legislation, what's in the Criminal Code, not necessarily what's on some old website from years back. That's why I feel it's important to get this definition correct.
Could you point out to the committee your views on getting the definition right versus things that the minister may say or the department may post on their website?
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you to all of the witnesses, particularly Ms. Aikema and Mr. Gajdics, for sharing your personal stories. I know that's difficult and it takes courage, so thank you for being here.
We've heard a lot at this committee with respect to some of the bylaws that exist in other parts of the country.
Mr. Gajdics, perhaps you could just comment on two questions off the top and keep your response to about 60 to 90 seconds, if you could. Have any of the bylaws that have been passed around the country been challenged constitutionally, and what were the results of any of those challenges?
Peter Gajdics
View Peter Gajdics Profile
Peter Gajdics
2020-12-08 11:32
To my knowledge, none of the municipal bans have been challenged, so that's a quick answer in that regard.
One thing I can add regarding this is about something that happened in the Vancouver ban when it was passed. I helped draft that bylaw. The City of Vancouver decided to write it for minors because of their fear that it could be challenged in court. I spoke at that chamber hearing. I was so delighted when one of the city councillors spoke up and said that we need to make an amendment to the bylaw and make it for all people regardless, because virtually every health organization globally has denounced these treatments as unethical, fraudulent and harmful, and if anyone were to challenge this bylaw in court, we would have the world stage at our defence. The entire city council unanimously passed that amendment and Vancouver's bylaw was for adults, for all.
To my knowledge, there have been no challenges.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm just conscious of the time.
With respect to the bylaws that exist around the country, Mr. Gajdics, would you say the majority or all of them now apply this across the board regardless of age, or do some still segregate out minors versus adults?
Peter Gajdics
View Peter Gajdics Profile
Peter Gajdics
2020-12-08 11:33
I might call on Nick because he runs the No Conversion Canada website which actually shows every ban in Canada, whether it's for minors or adults.
Nick, maybe you could answer this part.
Nicholas Schiavo
View Nicholas Schiavo Profile
Nicholas Schiavo
2020-12-08 11:34
Yes. Thank you, Peter, and thank you for that question.
Just to reiterate, there are currently seven provinces and territories with some form of conversion therapy legislation, and currently 14 municipalities across Canada that have some form of bylaw, policy or declaration regarding conversion therapy. They are each unique, so some of these are policies to regulate business licences. To your question, I think the gold standard in terms of municipal bylaws would be that of Calgary, which does apply to all ages. As we've seen more municipal bylaws happen, I think that tends to be the standard.
I also wanted to comment that, to my knowledge as well, there's been no constitutional challenge to any of these bylaws and we have seen no statistics or evidence to speak to this bogeyman chill effect in terms of impacting health care providers. This is a red herring argument that we've heard time and time again. I just want to reiterate that conversion therapy bylaws in legislation have existed in Canada for many years, and there's been no impact to credible scientific health care providers.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
I now want to involve Ms. Whelan and perhaps Ms. Zannis with the association for social workers.
We've heard this discussed a bit before and I personally have some reticence about enumerating a list. Some people have said, “Well, let's make it clear that it doesn't apply to a conversation with a parent or a teacher or a pastor.” The second you enumerate a list, I think you might be faulted for not including a coach, a music instructor, a mentor, or a Boy Scout leader—you have your pick.
What are your views on the definition as it's entrenched right now in the legislation versus zooming out and creating a list of the types of conversations that are not meant to be caught?
Ms. Whelan.
Alexandra Zannis
View Alexandra Zannis Profile
Alexandra Zannis
2020-12-08 11:36
Thanks, Joan.
Yes, thank you for the question; that is an excellent question.
We do not believe that it should be amended to include a list. To be very clear, this legislation isn't necessarily with the goal of targeting health care professionals such as social workers. Social workers and other health care professionals adhere to very strict codes of ethics, guidelines and regulatory bodies, and all of these practices, including talk therapy or the gentlest forms that we have been discussing here would already be a deep violation, and they would already face deep, deep code of ethics violations there. The point of this legislation is really to get at those unregulated individuals, like you said, who have the goal to change, alter or deny an individual's identity.
We think leaving it the way that it is would be the most beneficial in this scenario. Once you start to get into the list, exactly like you're saying, we're starting to create loopholes, and what we need is a federal ban on this practice to get at those unregulated individuals who adhere to no regulatory body when providing practices under the guise of therapy or—
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Ms. Zannis, I'm just conscious of my time.
Ms. Bildy, I presume we're not going to agree on certain things, but can we agree that you mentioned the best interests of a child and that it is not in the best interests of a child to be forced into a therapy to which they are being coerced or taken against their will? Do we agree on that point?
Lisa Bildy
View Lisa Bildy Profile
Lisa Bildy
2020-12-08 11:37
Well, yes, except for the fact that what we heard from the court in the U.K. last week is that children are not competent to give informed consent to what follows after a course of puberty blockers. You have to bear that in mind. Children should not be forced to.... I certainly believe with respect to children's sexual orientation that they should not be forced to undergo anything that makes them try to change that. I agree with you completely on that, but gender identity is a totally different kettle of fish. It's being strung along here in a bill that really should focus on sexual orientation only.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I thank the witnesses for being here. Conversion therapies are a pretty hot topic. The more testimony I hear, the less I know how we should limit the bill. I feel like we are walking on eggshells. It's not simple.
I would perhaps like to begin with Ms. Aikema, who told us about her experience with receiving therapy at a young age.
Here is my question for you, Ms. Aikema. Are you not worried about pastors or religious groups having too much of a bias, in either direction, to be effective with young people who are using conversion therapies?
Colette Aikema
View Colette Aikema Profile
Colette Aikema
2020-12-08 11:39
I absolutely agree with you that it's very possible that that.... Let me rephrase that. Could you rephrase the question?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
What I have understood from your testimony is that, in your earlier days, you were involved in conversion discussions or therapies—whichever one—with a priest or a pastor.
This is what concerns me. Aren't priests or pastors, regardless of their religion, too biased on those issues to be able to objectively help a child searching for their identity or their sexual orientation?
Colette Aikema
View Colette Aikema Profile
Colette Aikema
2020-12-08 11:40
Right. Regardless of the influence that faith leaders have, every person influences other people with their speech. Even you are influencing me right now with the things that you are saying, so absolutely, I would argue that the help and support that I got from the faith-based support group that I attended to deal with my sex addiction issues.... The impact that they had was absolutely monumental in saving my life and helping me heal from trauma. The impact that is there is absolutely true, and we need to make sure that the impact of this law is not going to be to restrict faith-based organizations and faith-based ministries, support groups and counsellors who are trying to help individuals like myself to meet our goals and our outcomes.
Conversion therapy is wrong because it forces an outcome on someone, and so I agree with you. We should never force an outcome on someone, and if that's what a pastor is doing, then they should be held responsible for that. The issue is that what we're talking about is that the government is trying to mandate the outcome of counselling and trying to mandate what a faith-based group should or should not be doing, which is a direct infringement on religious freedoms.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Aikema.
I would now like to put a question to you, Ms. Bildy.
Ms. Bildy, my understanding is that you are somewhat concerned about the definition set out in clause 5 of the bill that would potentially appear under section 320.101 of the Criminal Code. I would like you to summarize your understanding of that definition.
What is allowed and what is not if we keep to the current wording of the bill?
Lisa Bildy
View Lisa Bildy Profile
Lisa Bildy
2020-12-08 11:42
Sorry; I'm just trying to find the clause that you're referring to. Bear with me for a moment.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
I am talking about the definition of conversion therapy under section 320.101, or clause 5 of Bill C-6.
Lisa Bildy
View Lisa Bildy Profile
Lisa Bildy
2020-12-08 11:42
Thank you.
My concern is that gender identity should be removed entirely.
It's interesting. We heard people say that we should ensure that gender expression is subject to this bill as well. There are a lot of convoluted inconsistencies in all of this. When you think about it, gender expression allows children, for example, to express themselves outside of what we would consider stereotypical gendered behaviour.
Typically now, we find that when kids do act, perhaps, as a very tomboyish female or a very effeminate male, despite the fact that we should be embracing their expansion of gender categories, they often get put on a transition bandwagon and it's suggested to them that perhaps they're in the wrong body.
Even what people are asking here, to include both gender expression and gender identity, are mutually exclusive. You really need to go back to the drawing board on this. I think the easiest thing to do is to get rid of gender identity entirely. It just doesn't belong here.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Okay.
If I understand correctly, you agree with the proposal to ban potential conversion therapy in its broadest form. It's a matter of banning the intervention of a professional who may be looking to change the gender identity of an adolescent searching for their identity, of a therapist who would be trying to change their identity or influence them in one direction or another. For example, the adolescent could be told that he is a homosexual man, or that he is actually a woman in a man's body, or that she is a lesbian woman.
If I understand your testimony correctly, all those debates with minors should be banned. Did I understand correctly?
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