The Senate’s vote came just a week after hundreds of thousands of Canadians gathered in cities across the country, from Yellowknife in the north to Montreal on the French-speaking island of Montreal, for the Rally against Conversion Therapy
At the closing rally in Ottawa on Saturday night, Canadian politicians of all stripes made a plea to the people in attendance. “This doesn’t work. This doesn’t work,” Liberal MP and House leader Dominic LeBlanc said. “I don’t agree with the practice of conversion therapy. The practice of conversion therapy is inappropriate, it is cruel and it must end.” He added, “I think people are going to rally like you’ve never rallied before. The most terrifying thing about this is people’s children are at risk.”
By all accounts, the community’s outrage moved all politicians involved to show up at the rally, from both the left and the right. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a “particularly painful” day for thousands of Canadians who have been alienated by the practice.
Former Ontario Premier David Peterson joined the condemnation on Saturday, saying “It’s wrong. It’s beyond human compassion. The longer we as a country persist with the way we’re treating LGBTQ2 people in Canada, the longer we’re going to go backwards in terms of the equality of everyone and human rights.”
He added, “To me, it’s a crass use of theological basis to oppress and, frankly, de-love and to make people feel like their best years are just over. I think that’s very backwards.”
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said that “conversion therapy goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and must be banned by Parliament.”
In the hours following the House vote, members of Parliament gathered for a private caucus to celebrate with the LGBTQ community in Ottawa. But there’s a big question that hangs over the Canadian Parliament that they have failed to answer: Did the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the NDP receive the expected support from Independent MPs to send the conversion therapy bill straight to the Senate for debate? Those Independent MPs, who collectively hold the balance of power, were supposed to support the bill, in large part due to the steadfast opposition that they have shown in the past to any form of bigotry and prejudice toward the LGBTQ community.