Wagantall defends vote on conversion therapy bill

For Immediate Release

Ottawa, ON – Following the June 22nd vote on Bill C-6, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy), Cathay Wagantall, Member of Parliament for Yorkton—Melville, has defended her decision to vote against the legislation in its current form.

“I want to make clear that I support a conversion therapy ban,” said Wagantall. “However, I don’t support the ban in this particular piece of legislation. The definition of conversion therapy included in this bill is not supported by any professional or medical institution in North America. Medical bodies do not ban counseling for sexual behaviour, as this bill does.”

The Trudeau Government twice brought forward a bill to ban conversion therapy in the current parliament. In both cases, Wagantall argued that the bill had a significant impact on parental rights and the protection of free speech for teachers, counsellors, clergy, as well as those in the LGBTQ community.

Despite offering a clarification on the Department of Justice website that the bill would in no way infringe upon conversations between parents, teachers, counsellors, and faith leaders with their dependents, the Liberals failed to add the same clarification to the actual legislation.

“In a court of law, a judge does not refer to a website to make a ruling,” stated Wagantall. “They use the terms that are laid out in the legislation. If the Liberals are truly concerned about protecting conversations from government oversight, then they should have had no problem adding that clarification into the bill.”

Wagantall stressed that while Canada needs a conversion therapy ban, she could not support this conversion therapy ban because, “it bans more than just conversion therapy.”

“Canadians have the right and freedom to request counseling to help reduce all kinds of behaviour, including sexual behaviour,” she said. “In this bill, only the LGBTQ community would be prevented from accessing that support. The definition is written in such a way that, as a law, it will negatively impact equal access to counselling for LGBTQ people.”

“I had voted for it to go to committee for study following second reading in good faith, hoping that many of my concerns would be addressed and enable me to vote in favour of what should have been the only focus of this bill – banning conversion therapy. Unfortunately, Liberals rejected concerns shared by me and many of my colleagues.”

Wagantall also expressed concern with the Liberals’ attempt, through C-6, to conflate gender identity and sexual orientation.

“These are two very different issues,” she noted. “We heard from many witnesses that treating them the same will have harmful effects on Canadians trying to navigate their orientation and/or gender identity. Throughout my speech on the bill, I presented the YouTube de-transitioning stories of a number of transgender individuals who would be found in contempt of this legislation for sharing their lived experiences.”

As C-6 makes its way through the Senate, Wagantall expressed hope that recommendations will be made to correct its serious flaws. However, if an election is called before the House of Commons reconvenes, she is confident that a new Conservative government will bring forward a law that ensures protections are in place to ban conversion therapy and target coercive practices.

“I am responsible to all of the LGBTQ community to ensure conversion therapy is made illegal while not criminalizing any one LGBTQ individual for seeking counselling and care to change a behaviour that they wish to change,” she said. “It is not the role of the government to decide what identity or behaviours an individual should realize. That freedom should be left to the individual. I will support a ban that focuses on bad practices, but not one that attacks Canadians’ freedom to choose their outcomes and goals.”

“C-6 is not a clear and precise law that only seeks to criminalize conversion therapy,” Wagantall concluded. “It could have been. It should have been. But that was not the Liberals’ intent.”

A suite of resources, including MP Wagantall’s third reading speech, articles, and key testimony can be found at www.cathaywagantall.ca/c6.