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Canada bans debunked anti-LGBT ‘conversion therapy’

Trans PULSE Canada, a survey conducted in 2019, found that 11% of more than 2,000 transgender and non-binary identifying respondents had said they’d undergone conversion therapy. “Among those aged 14 to 24, 8% had experienced conversion therapy,” the report said. “Among those aged 25 to 49, 11% had experienced conversion therapy. Among those age 50 or older, 25% had experienced conversion therapy.”

The New York Times reports that the legislation passed by Canadian lawmakers late last year went further than previous efforts, by covering both children and adults. NBC News reported in 2020 that other nations that have banned the debunked practice include Malta, Brazil, Ecuador, Taiwan, and Germany. “There are partial or regional bans in the Netherlands, Spain, Cyprus, Switzerland, Norway, Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, and South Africa.”

In the U.S., the American Medical Association (AMA) has thrown its support behind both state and national efforts to ban this debunked practice. “Conversion therapy has no foundation as scientifically valid medical care and lacks credible evidence to support its efficacy or safety,” Dr. William E. Kobler, an AMA board member, told NBC News. The United Nations the next year urged an end to this harmful torture, Daily Kos’ Marissa Higgins wrote at the time.

20 U.S. states have passed legislation protecting children from the debunked practice, most recently Virginia in 2020. Trevor Project, a national organization that offers 24/7 services to LGBTQ youth in crisis, has been championing a 50 Bills 50 States effort to protect LGBTQ kids nationally.

“This issue is personal for me, as a pediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children,” Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said at the time. “Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are—especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.” 

In Minnesota last year, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order protecting LGBTQ children, Higgins also wrote at the time. Walz was forced to go the executive order route after Republican obstruction. Localities around the country have also issued their own orders protecting children, including in Lincoln, Nebraska, Lexington, Kentucky, and Charleston, West Virginia.

“All of Charleston’s children deserve love and respect for who they are, and no one should be in the business of trying to shame or humiliate teenagers out of being LGBTQ,” Fairness West Virginia Andrew Schneider said last year. “Our city’s medical and faith communities came out strongly in support of this bill to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, and I congratulate members of the City Council for bravely approving it.” It’s long past time to ban this harmful, barbaric practice from coast to coast.

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