Conversion therapy is now illegal in Canada, marking a major milestone in LGBTQ2S+ rights in this country.
After parliamentarians came together to unanimously pass legislation to eradicate the harmful practice in late 2021, the Criminal Code sanctions came into force on Jan. 7.
That means that now, anyone who looks to subject someone of any age, consenting or not, to so-called conversion therapy could face up to five years in prison.
As well, if someone is found to be promoting, advertising, or profiting from providing the practice, they could face up to two years in prison.
Conversion "therapy," as it has been called, seeks to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender. It can include seeking to repress someone's non-heterosexual attraction, or repressing a person's gender expression or non-cis gender identity.
These practices can take various forms, including counseling and behavioral modification, and they have been opposed by numerous health and human rights groups. There continue to be calls for further mental health and educational supports for those who have survived conversion therapy.
After years of calls for action and past failed attempts to pass a bill to ban conversion therapy, the accelerated all-party effort—despite some after-the-fact concerns raised by a few Conservative MPs—has been praised by political leaders as well as by LGBTQ2S+ advocates both in Canada and abroad.
Few countries have criminalized conversion therapy, and Canada now has what the federal Liberal government has described as "among the most comprehensive" protections in the world.