- LGBTQ+ conversion therapy is still legal in Quebec and several groups continue to openly practice it.
- Both the federal government and, on Monday, the city of Montreal have called for a ban of the therapy.
- We spoke with an LGBTQ+ activist and attempted to contact a conversion therapy organization to discuss the practice.
On Monday, Montreal mayor Valérie Plante announced that elected officials in Montreal had voted unanimously on a motion to denounce conversion therapy and demand that it be banned.
It may come as a suprise to many that not only is conversion therapy still legal in Quebec, it is openly practiced. Ontario has banned conversion therapy for minors, as has Nova Scotia. Vancouver has banned all forms of conversion therapy, and Manitoba has imposed measures to limit the practice.
L'Ordre des psychologues du Québec (the professional order for Quebec psychologists) "opposes portrayals of sexual minority youths and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation." Furthermore, it has underlined that these therapies are inappropriate, unethical, and inhumane.
However, Quebec has not formally banned the practice, and there are still several organizations that offer this service to LGBTQ+ youth.
L'alliance arc-en-ciel is a non-profit that fights for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and seeks to educate the public on issues relating to sexual diversity and gender plurality. Last year, they issued a report exposing conversion therapy in Quebec.
Julie Dubois, executive director of the organization, states that one of the main impediments that people in favour of banning conversion therapy face is a lack of research. Not enough has been done to prove the impacts of this therapy on the people who undergo it.
The report does however, denounce conversion therapy and state that the practice can have harmful cognitive and social repercussions, noting that these programs can lead to suicidal thoughts and harmful behaviour. It is worth noting that most people who participate in these programs are minors.
The report notes that there are several groups that still practice this therapy today. As my own research indicates, these groups are often hard to find, and reluctant to talk to the press.
One of the most prominent and outspoken of such organisation is called Ta vie ton choix (Your Life Your Choice). The group, founded in 2010 by a former Quebec journalist, offers conversion therapy. One of the other founders, Laurent M. Leclerc, himself identifies as an "ex-gay."
According to the organization's website, several services will teach you "how one can be free from unwanted homosexual thoughts, attractions or behaviour all while finding the heterosexual path."
TVTC did not reply to our request for comments. But, the organization's website states that they do not believe that they are promoting hatred or homophobia, saying that they are "totally opposed to all forms of hatred, unjust discrimination, bullying and violence against any human being, regardless of the direction of their sexual attractions."
According to TVTC, "to say that a person who is unhappy to feel homosexual attractions can change if motivated does not constitute hate speech, or acts of violence against those who feel such attractions. Far from being homophobia, it is indeed an observation consistent with the facts, since many empirical evidences, a century of clinical experience and the testimony of former gays support it."
The report from L'alliance arc-en-ciel also pointed out another Montreal-based group, The Isaiah 40 Foundation. At the time of the report from L'alliance arc-en-ciel, it is alleged that the group still promoted conversion therapy on their website. It no longer does.
Because many organisations that practice conversion therapy are listed as charitable organisations, these conversion therapy programs are directly or indirectly funded by the government.
L'alliance arc-en-ciel makes many recommendations regarding conversion therapy, and one of them is that Revenu Quebec should not be offering tax credits to organizations that offer conversion therapy.
Other recommendations include helping people who have been victims of this kind of therapy, and to stop recognizing conversion therapy as a legitimate form of psychotherapy.
The organisation hopes that, one day, conversion therapy will be outlawed. However, though Julie Dubois hopes to see laws put in place to ban the practice, she explains that laws aren't enough.
"It's not because drunk driving is illegal that people have stopped doing it," she explained. For real change to be enacted, there need to be campaigns that educate and mobilize people around the issue.
Dubois believes that it is just a matter of time before Quebec bans conversion therapy. She senses that there is more and more openness towards banning the practice. The recent declaration from the city of Montreal seems to support this.