Fernie Pride dismayed with local MP for C-6 vote
Letter to the Editor
Fernie Pride Society would like to express our dismay at the June 22, ‘nay’ vote for the third reading and adoption of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy) cast by the Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, as well as 62 of his Conservative Party peers.
How is it that 51 Conservative MPs were able to vote in favour of Bill C-6 if it was so badly flawed and did not offer the protection of conversations that seem to be the go-to response as to why ‘nay’ votes were cast?
We feel that by failing to ensure the protection of 2SLGBTQ+ youth and adults, it is effectively telling thousands of Kootenay-Columbia residents that the ability to live life as their authentic selves is a luxury reserved for heterosexual, cisgender individuals. Casting a ‘nay’ vote for Bill C-6, is tacitly offering support for the continuation of conversion therapy; a barbaric and fraudulent pseudo-therapy that simply does not work. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have confirmed this. Canadian society predominately agrees that all sexual orientations and gender expressions are valid.
Bill C-6 does not criminalize conversations. It criminalizes the commitment of people against their will, primarily youth, to the unsubstantiated practice of conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy claims to be able to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress non-heterosexual sexual behaviours, or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth by using talk therapy, behavioural or aversion therapy, group therapy treatments, and medical or drug-induced treatments. It stigmatizes, removes freedoms, makes it unsafe for 2SLGBTQ+ people, undermines their dignity, and negatively impacts their equality rights. It perpetuates stereotypes about 2SLGBTQ+ persons, and stresses that identities, other than those of socially acceptable straight and gender binary conforming people, can and should be changed as they are inherently flawed.
Conversion therapy cannot and does not change sexual orientation or gender identity, it is not effective and tantamount to abuse. It has devastating impacts on its victims including anxiety, depression, self-hatred, suicide or suicidal thoughts, and many other psychological and social issues.
Research tells us that people in sexual and gender minorities who have been exposed to conversion therapy attempt suicide 14 times more often than those in the general population. This rate is double that of suicide attempts in those belonging to sexual and gender minorities who have not been exposed. Twenty-eight per cent of youth who had been exposed to conversion therapy attempted suicide, compared to 14% of sexual and gender minority youth who had not been exposed.
The decision by our Kootenay-Columbia MP and some of his Conservative colleagues to ignore the lived experiences of the victims of conversion therapy and disregard medical experts is inexplicable.
They can do better and must do better. We are calling on them to protect the youth of the Kootenay-Columbia region and the rest of Canada and to stand up and say that all sexual orientations and gender identities are valid, are authentic, and are worthy of respect.
on behalf of the Fernie Pride Society Board of Directors