NS bans conversion therapy: most progressive 2SLGBTIQ+ legislation in Canada

On September 11th the Nova Scotia Department of Justice introduced some powerful legislation prohibiting the use of a discriminatory and harmful therapy that attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity 2SLGBTIQ+ youth and adolescents.

Known as Reparative or Conversion Therapy, this harmful practice of trying to 'fix a person' identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming (GNC), has been proven to cause harm, disrespects a persons human rights and is quite simply, ineffective.

Manitoba and Ontario already have similar bans against the treatment.

“Nova Scotia does not condone sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts or the concept that anyone from the 2SLGBTIQ+ community requires treatment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Justice Minister Mark Furey. “A person’s sexual orientation is something to be respected, especially in a proudly diverse and inclusive province like Nova Scotia.”

Conversion therapy was spotlighted this summer in Nova Scotia when members of an anti-gay religious group in the U.S., who advocate for conversion therapy, were going to speak at a bible camp in Pugwash.

'Gerard Veldhoven, a longtime gay-rights activist from New Glasgow said while there's been social progress through the years, it's not come easily or quickly. Veldhoven said he wasn't surprised when he heard about the plans for the summer camp in Pugwash, although it was still shocking. It's proof legislation is necessary, he said.'

"Kate Shewan, executive director of the Youth Project in Halifax, said people in that age bracket have likely already been exposed to homophobia and transphobia and might be feeling like "their identity is a problem or something that does need to be fixed."

'Shewan said she's troubled over the idea someone in that situation would be in a position to consent, noting there are groups in Nova Scotia that either provide or promote conversion therapy.'

A recent policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a body of 67,000+ medical professionals; states the proven standard of care and support for gender diverse youth is the gender affirmative care model. This approach offers developmentally appropriate care, oriented toward understanding and appreciating a youth’s gender experience and has been proven to have positive outcomes for youth and adolescents.

"Reparative approaches have been proven to be not only unsuccessful‍ but also deleterious and are considered outside the mainstream of traditional medical practice."

Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Transgender and GenderDiverse Children and Adolescents

From the Press Release:

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act will protect and uphold the rights of 2SLGBTIQ+ Nova Scotians by prohibiting people in positions of trust or authority from undertaking such change efforts with minors.

The legislation will also prohibit regulated health professionals from providing any practice or service that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of Nova Scotians under the age of 19, the age of majority in the province.

The act will enshrine in law that these practices are not medically insured services in Nova Scotia. In addition, the legislation will ensure that public funds are not used to support organizations that provide or advocate the use of the intervention.

“This is an excellent step toward protecting 2SGLBTIQ+ youth by ensuring that people in power and health professions do not engage in these harmful conversion practices,” said Matthew Numer, an advocate and former chair of the Rainbow Action Project. “This legislation is the most progressive we have seen in Canada.”

Sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts refer to practices that attempt to change a 2SLGBTIQ+ person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through various means including counselling, behavior modification and/or the use of medications.

“The practice of conversion therapy is harmful, it is not evidenced based and is not in the spirit of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act,” said Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. “This practice does not belong in medicine. The profession condemns this practice and this condemnation is echoed in this new legislation.”

Services and programs that provide support, understanding, acceptance or help with coping, identity exploration or development will not be affected by this legislation and it will not impact gender-confirming surgeries and associated services.

“Halifax Pride is pleased that the government is taking this important step to protect vulnerable queer persons from the harmful, and widely condemned, practise of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” said Morgan Manzer, chair of Halifax Pride.

#inclusionmatters #LGBTQ2 #transyouth #GDC