River of Pride, an LGBTQ+ group in Moncton, N.B., is pushing political parties to include two issues in provincial election platforms.
First, the group hopes to ban conversion therapy — a pseudoscientific practice intended to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity — in New Brunswick.
“It’s extremely, extremely dangerous,” says the group’s vice-president, Brian Attfield. “It’s almost disgusting, the way that it goes about severe risk of harm to the queer community.”
Attfield calls the practice a violation of human rights, saying the act is currently prohibited in other provinces such as Manitoba and Ontario.
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the New Brunswick Human Rights Act protect gender identity and sexual orientation,” said Attfield.
Yet Attfield says the practice is still legal in New Brunswick, and he wants that changed.
The group is also calling on candidates to look at full coverage for PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis.
“It goes into the cells where the HIV would be inserting themselves into the cell, takes over a part of a genetic code of the virus, and makes it so the cell can’t reproduce that virus anymore,” Attfield explained.
According to the province, the drug is currently covered if you test positive for HIV and is available for people who qualify for a drug card though social development.
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But the group says everyone deserves free access as a prevention drug.
“When they take this daily HIV medication, it’s been shown to prevent HIV.”
Lifetime treatment of HIV costs can be high, according to the Attfield, and PrEP coverage would amount to substantial savings if the infection was prevented in the first place.