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Canada: Province of Ontario to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ for LGBT Children

(June 12, 2015) On June 4, 2015, the Canadian province of Ontario passed Bill 77 (Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act, 2015, S.O. 2015 C.18, http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=3197 ), which bans conversion therapy treatment for children under the age of 18.

Conversion therapy, which is also known as reparative therapy, is any treatment whose purpose is to change sexual orientation or gender identity. (LGBT-Sexual Orientation, AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION, http://www.psychiatry.org/lgbt-sexual-orientation (last visited June 9, 2015).) Recently it has come under intense scrutiny and criticism on ethical and medical grounds – particularly for the anxiety and depression it can produce in vulnerableyouth. (Questions and Answers: Sexual Orientation in Schools, Public Health Agency of Canada website (last modified Mar. 7, 2014), http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/rp/so-os/so-eng.php; LGBT conversion Therapy Ineffective and Harmful, Critics Say, CBC NEWS (June 5, 2015), http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/lgbt-conversion-therapy-ineffective-and-harmful-critics-say-1.3101838 .)

The new legislation amends the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 to include a provision that stipulates: “[n]o person shall, in the course ofproviding health care services, provide any treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person under 18 years of age.” ( Id. § 2.) This prohibition does not apply, however, to the following forms of treatment:

(a) services that provide acceptance, support, or understanding of a person or the facilitation of a person's coping, social support or identity exploration or development; and

(b) sex-reassignment surgery or any services related to sex-reassignment surgery. (Id. § 1.)

The new law also amends Ontario's Health Insurance Act to prohibit such services from being insured services. (Id.)

According to news reports, the Province of Manitoba is also taking steps to implement measures to ban conversion therapy. ( Manitoba Works to Ban Conversion Therapy for LGBT Youth, CBC NEWS (May 22, 2015), http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-works-to-ban-conversion-therapy-for-lgbt-youth-1.3083611 .)