LETTER: MP Morrison and conversion therapy

From readers Anne Simonen and Rory Gallaugher

Yesterday, Canada passed legislation banning conversion therapy, an astonishingly harmful practice built on the basis that anybody not heterosexual and cisgender is broken and needs fixing. Having these practices banned will protect many from the psychological harm that comes with these therapies. But it was voted against by MP Rob Morrison.

He said he wanted to ensure that “voluntary conversations” between individuals and people in their lives (parents, religious leaders, and counsellors, among others) are not criminalized, adding that “most Canadians don’t want conversations between a parent and a child to be criminalized either.”

However, if it is not coming from a place of love and acceptance, any conversation about a child’s gender or sexual identity is harmful, whether or not it is coming from an established provider for this now-outlawed therapy.

In other words, either parents are affirming and supportive of their child, and therefore would not trigger accusations of conversion therapy, or they aren’t, and impart harm as a result. We already have laws protecting kids from other forms of harm, so why not protect kids from this psychological harm? And we haven’t even touched on his comment of “voluntary” conversations, and how children would consent to such discussion.

In short, MP Morrison and the others of the Conservative caucus were willing to vote down this law, allowing institutional conversion therapy to continue unless these “clarifications” were added, allowing families and others to continue to do it, unofficially. As constituents we need to be allies to the LGBTQIA+ folk in our lives, we need to tell him that’s not OK, and we need to be constantly learning so we can make sure those seeking help find it with us.

Anne Simonen

Rory Gallaugher