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Quebec Liberals introduce bill to ban conversion therapy

Bill 599 seeks to penalize conversion therapy in Quebec.
Bill 599 seeks to penalize conversion therapy in Quebec. Tuesday September 22, 2020. Global News

Quebec Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone has introduced a bill that seeks to ban conversion therapy in the province.

Bill 599 seeks to penalize the practice, which is described by the Canadian government as an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviours, or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth.

Under the bill, people or organizations who apply such type of therapy, incite someone to receive it or even fund it would face sanctions.

It also would allow people who have suffered from these therapies to seek damages.

READ MORE: Canada is exploring Criminal Code reforms to halt conversion therapy

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The Health Insurance Act would be amended to provide that conversion therapy is not an insured service.

The bill, which was introduced on Tuesday at Quebec’s National Assembly, states that its purpose is to respect sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Conversion therapy causes distress, it causes alcoholism, it causes addiction to drugs, anxiety, suicide. It is a terrible thing that doesn’t have a place,” said Maccarone.

Click to play video 'Former conversion therapy leader comes out as gay' Former conversion therapy leader comes out as gay
Former conversion therapy leader comes out as gay

Non-Profit organization GRIS-Montreal agrees and is pleading with members of the National Assembly to pass this bill.

“Please push this issue through because there are thousands of individuals who have gone through it and will thank you for this,” said Catherine Duclos, president of the organization. “Also, for future generations, if we teach them — if we show them that who they are is legitimate, then I think that can make a huge difference for generations that will follow.”

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Read more: Canada to introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy

Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has said he wants to ban conversion therapy in the province.

The federal government also introduced a bill to ban conversion therapy in Canada back in March just before Parliament shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The practice has been banned in Ontario and Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Vancouver and several cities in Alberta.

Nova Scotia also prohibited the therapy for youth under 16 years of age, but added a provision that allows minors between the ages of 16 and 18 to consent.

–With files from Global’s Emerald Bensadoun