Cloverdale — Langley City MP Tamara Jansen said she personally opposes conversion therapy, but a proposed law to make it a criminal offence in Canada needs to be clarified (Langley Advance Times file)

Cloverdale — Langley City MP Tamara Jansen launches petition to review proposed ban on “conversion therapy”

Wording too vague, could see parents charged just for talking to their kids, Conservative cautioned

A proposed law that would make so-called conversion therapy a criminal offence in Canada is “poorly written” and could lead to parents being charged with breaking the law for simply talking to their kids about sexuality, according to Cloverdale — Langley City Conservative MP Tamara Jansen.

Jansen has launched a e-petition on the House of Commons website that seeks to have the legislation reviewed in order to “clarify” the language of Bill C-8, a proposal by Justice Minister David Lametti.

VIDEO: Liberal bill outlaws conversion therapy for kids, non-consenting adults

Lametti wants the Criminal Code amended to make it an offence to, among other things, cause a person to undergo conversion therapy against the person’s will; causing a child to undergo conversion therapy; removing a child from Canada to undergo conversion therapy in another country; advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy; and “receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.”

According to the petition, in Bill C-8, conversion therapy is “vaguely defined and overreaches established safeguarding principles by criminalizing therapies offered by medical professionals and normal conversations between children and parents, counsellors, caregivers, and educators …”

It calls on Parliament “to complete and make public a gender-based analysis of the impact the legislation could have on women, children, professionals and families in health, education and caregiving roles.”

Posted on July 23, by Sunday, July 26, 249 people had signed, with the biggest response in B.C. (83) and Ontario (82).

READ ALSO: Controversy over MLAs buying ads in Langley magazine that opposes trans rights

Jansen told the Langley Advance Times that the petition was submitted by a constituent via the House of Commons online portal.

Any Canadian can submit a petition using that method, but it requires an MP to present it on their behalf.

“When the government proposes to ban something, it is crucially important for that thing to be correctly defined in the legislation,” Jansen said.

”As the bill is currently written, a simple conversation between a parent and a child about sexual behaviour and setting boundaries could be falsely defined as conversion therapy, leading to state intervention.”

Jansen said she, along with her Conservative colleagues, oppose conversion therapy in principle.

“I would support a bill that bans harmful, coercive, or degrading practices that seek to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity,” Jansen stated.

”My issue with bill C-8 is that a poorly written definition of conversion therapy could end up criminalizing activities and even private conversations which have nothing to do with conversion therapy.

She predicted Bill C-8 will “likely receive a thorough review in committee, where parliamentarians will have the opportunity to consider testimony from stakeholders on every side of the issue.”

Lametti said in March that those who engage in “open-ended,” supportive discussions with an individual exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity have nothing to fear.

But, if there is evidence of a discussion in which a family member or counsellor expresses disapproval or pressures an individual to change his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, that could fall afoul of the law, Lametti added.

Art Pearson, the public outreach coordinator for the Hominum Fraser Valley support group – which holds monthly meetings in the Langley area for gay, bi-sexual, and questioning men, called the attempt to delay the law “puzzling and disturbing.”

“I think there should be a total ban on conversion therapy,” Pearson added.

“It’s disturbing in this day and age, we’re still having this kind of debate.”

“We’re way past that.”

READ MORE: Vancouver’s ‘conversion therapy’ ban more than symbolic: experts

Langley inclusion activist Stacey Wakelin would like to see the municipalities of Langley Townships and Langley City enact bylaws banning the practice.

As for the suggestion the proposed federal law would interfere with parents’ rights to talk to their kids, “our children have their own rights, Wakelin said.

“I would certainly love to see conversion therapy banned in this country, Wakelin commented.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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