Madam Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging that I am joining the House from Waterloo, Ontario, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Neutral people.
I also want to thank my dear friend and colleague, the member of Parliament for Don Valley West, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for sharing his time with me. Mostly, I thank him as a fellow Canadian citizen. I thank him as a fellow member of the human race. I thank him for being his true authentic person he was put on this Earth to be.
It is a privilege to rise in support of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code to abolish the destructive practice of conversion therapy in Canada. I rise today with someone else's words, words I have not been able to forget since I first heard them. They are the words of Peter Gajdics, a survivor of six years of conversion therapy, who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in December. Mr. Gajdics said:
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.
Imagine being parents feeling like they cannot accept part of who their child truly is or who or how they love. That is deep conditioning at work, conditioning that imprisons people in the misguided belief that the only acceptable path is being cisgender or heterosexual, conditioning based on myths, stereotypes and underlying mistruths that are rooted in and perpetuate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
It is high time for us to take decisive action to end conversion therapy and to do everything we can to stop violence and discrimination in its tracks. LGBTQ2 rights are human rights.
My mandate letter as the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth asks me to promote LGBTQ2 equality, promote LGBTQ2 rights and address discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities.
A recent global survey tells us that four out of five people who undergo these damaging therapies are younger than 24 years old, and of those, roughly half are under 18 years old. This is far too many young people growing up being told they are invalid, shameful or unnatural, far too many young people being told that how they perceive themselves, who they want to be in this world or who or how they love is wrong.
Bill C-6 get us one step closer to that goal.
These young people are our future. We must protect them. We have to put an end to conversion therapy, especially for children and youth.
I would like to thank the witnesses who appeared before committee, those who contributed submissions and the standing committee members who came together to strengthen the legislation for Canadians. Further defining conversion therapy to include gender expression while making clear the heinous efforts to force people to be something they are not is the target of this legislation.
In addition to the five original prohibited offences, the committee's amendments clarify that conversion therapy performed without consent is to be criminalized and that promoting conversion therapy services or practices is also to be targeted.
Unlike some misguided narratives we have heard about the bill, it would not criminalize another person's values, opinions or beliefs. It does not criminalize a private conversation where these values or beliefs are being expressed. We recognize it is crucial to ensure affirming and supportive guidance and advice remains available to those coming to terms with who they are.
There is no question that these proposed amendments bring us one step closer to building the safer and consciously more inclusive Canada we all imagine. However, we know that achieving this vision will take more than legislation. It will take a transformation of our ideas about and attitudes toward LGBTQ2 communities, a transformation of our broader perspectives on diversity and inclusion. It will take nothing short of a revolution of the hearts and minds of all Canadians.
The Government of Canada is strongly committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians and ensuring full and equitable participation in society.
We are working with all levels of government and with partners from all sectors to bring about positive change across Canada.
As leaders, as legislators, as Canadians, as compassionate human beings, it is our job to ensure that Canada is a country for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, can live in equity and freedom.
Not long ago, six Conservative members voted against the bill at second reading in the House. Anyone who continues to oppose the proposals in Bill C-6 is in direct opposition to the community.
The bill and all our actions to recognize and protect the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians are important and necessary steps in building a safer, more equitable and consciously more inclusive Canada we all want. Conversion therapy practices have no place in Canada.
When I think of the courage and resilience of the many survivors who gave their testimony in December, I know that we in the House have a duty to ensure that we do not let them down. We are indebted to their collective strength and steadfastness in the face of oppression of those who speak out.
When children arrive into this world, they are not innately born with prejudice or hatred. Children are taught to hate and to discriminate, taught to be ashamed of who they are and taught that there is only one correct way to live and be. We have to provide a different future for our next generations, an even better and consciously more inclusive future.
Our task is clear: The time to act is now. I urge all members to support this legislation, protect Canadians and uphold human rights for all. For members who oppose Bill C-6, do so in their right but not by speaking with fear or misinformation.
Tomorrow, we mark the anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Let us all work to create and defend and build on these rights and freedoms. Let us protect these hard-fought rights and freedoms, because I know we can and must do better.