The federal government’s latest effort to ban conversion therapy in Canada would let courts authorize the seizure or removal of online content advertising the discredited practice.
The new bill, introduced Monday, is the Liberals’ promised third shot at banning conversion therapy with a bill the government is aiming to get passed by Christmas.
If passed, the legislation would make it a crime to cause someone to undergo conversion therapy, taking a minor out of the country in order to get conversion therapy abroad, profiting from the practice, or either advertising or promoting it.
Conversion therapy refers to practices that try to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. It has been widely discredited, including by the American Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association, among others.
The government’s last attempt to ban conversion therapy through legislation had not yet made it through the Senate when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the federal election in August.
As a result, the bill died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved ahead of the vote.
The previous legislation — C-6 — banned conversion therapy for children and those adults who did not consent to it, but the latest version of the bill is expected to bar the practice outright.
In a background document posted on the Justice Department’s website, officials said the bill presented on Monday goes farther than the previous one because it broadens the ban beyond just youth.
“This bill is similar to former Bill C-6, which was adopted by the House of Commons in the previous Parliament, but with one important difference,” the government said.
“It expands on the previous proposed legislation to protect all Canadians—regardless of their age—from the harms of conversion therapy practices and to promote the dignity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) persons.”
The legislation proposes adding four new Criminal Code offences. Under those, the offence of causing someone to undergo conversation therapy would carry a maximum five years in prison, as would the offence of removing a minor from Canada to undergo the practice abroad.
The offences of profiting from conversion therapy as well as advertising or promoting it would carry a maximum of two years behind bars.
Justice Minister David Lametti and Women and Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien are set to hold a press conference at 4:30 PM Eastern on Monday to explain the changes.
The bill is likely to win support from the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, the Green Party and many Conservative MPs, including party leader Erin O’Toole. More than half of the Tory caucus opposed the government’s previous attempt to clamp down on the practice.
With files from The Canadian Press.