Reparative Therapy Bans rushed into law in MB and ON: Serious Implications
Update (July 20, 2015): Read this article, titled “Free speech: what banning ‘gay conversion therapy’ will really stop”
***Take Action Today: 3 EasyMail letters waiting for you below***
Recently Ontario and Manitoba passed legislation banning therapy for teens with unwanted homosexual or transgender feelings. We have serious concerns regarding the implications of these laws, and fear they are just around the corner for other provinces. At the end of this article we have some pointers on how you can respond in your province.
On June 4th, the last day that the Ontario Legislature was sitting before the summer, MPPs voted unanimously to pass Bill 77, heralded by its proponents as the right step following similar legislation in some jurisdictions of the United States. This bill was first proposed by New Democrat Cheri DiNovo a minister in the United Church of Canada. She argued, “these kids do not need to be fixed. It’s society that needs to be fixed.” The bill was written to remove coverage for “services rendered that seek to change or direct the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient, including efforts to change or direct the patient’s behaviour or gender expression.” It will also seek to prohibit providing these services to anyone under the age of 18. Manitoba’s new regulations are similar.
ARPA Canada had been working towards presenting a submission to the Justice Committee, which reviewed the bill before it was passed on for its third and final reading in the legislature. Although we were informed that our request to present before the committee was received, the committee only heard from organizations that promote LGBT rights and failed to inform us when they were meeting. After just one day of meeting and “studying” the legislation, the bill was sent back to the Legislature and on June 4th it was voted unanimously into law. We have serious concerns about the speed and one-sided undemocratic process that resulted in this bill’s passage in Ontario, and can only expect that it will be repeated in other provinces. Not one MPP opposed this legislation.
Failure to Define Terms
The most glaring omission of Bill 77 is that it fails to define what ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy is. We recognize that reparative sexual therapy has an ugly past. In the past ‘doctors’ and unlicensed individuals used various types of therapies that were thought to help a ‘disordered individual,’ in this case those struggling with their sexuality to overcome their feelings and just ‘be normal.’ Is this bill only addressing these repulsive ‘shock therapies’ or other terrifying pseudoscientific methods, or is it referring to any therapy or counselling that a person struggling with sexual identity receives? Clearly the terms need to be better defined. Left as they are, it can perpetuate a fear among counsellors and pressure them to not help youth who are clearly in need of help as they struggle with their sexuality.
Our concern is that Bill 77 does not specify distinctions between these methodologies of the past and genuine counselling, but simply tosses all onto the same societal trash heap. The implications for pastors, doctors, and those struggling with sexual orientation or sexual confusion are simply ignored in favour of a politically motivated bill.
Born this Way?
A central issue here is whether sexual orientation can and should be changed. The politically correct thing to say is that sexual orientation cannot be changed, that you are ‘Born this way’ as Lady Gaga’s song famously declares. However, growing numbers of those from the LGBTQ communities are starting to express a different opinion – that it is not something you are born with but something learned. Julie Bindle a self identified lesbian writes in an article for The Guardian, “Being gay or lesbian is obviously not a choice like which sauce to have with your pasta, but more a mix of opportunity, luck, chance and, quite frankly, bravery. It is a positive choice, and we do not need anyone with a test tube telling us otherwise.” Another example is this fascinating article from the blog ‘Social (In)Queery’ which pointed out five reasons why no one is born gay or straight. A short excerpt:
The fact that the “born this way” hypothesis has resulted in greater political returns for gay and lesbian people doesn’t have anything to do with whether it is true. Maybe, as gay people, we want to get together andit is true because it is politically strategic. That would be interesting. But still, it wouldn’t make the idea true…I think that in reality, we all know that sexual desire is deeply subject to social, cultural, and historical forces. We know that if the world today were a different place, a place where homosexuality was culturally normative (like, say, Ancient Greece), we would see far more people embracing their homosexual desires. And if this were the case, it would have nothing to do with genetics.
A study in 2010 came to the conclusion that “Gay and lesbian parents would be more likely to have gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure (of sexual orientation) sons and daughters.” Other major studies of groups of identical twins have come to the conclusion that the number of times that identical twins are both homosexuals occurs between 5-14% of the cases. The twins are genetically identical, yet they rarely will both identify as being gay or lesbian, thus furthering the argument that orientation is not genetic, but influenced by social and cultural forces. Dr. Whitehead, author of one study points out, “No-one is born gay…The predominant things that create homosexuality in one identical twin and not in the other have to be post-birth factors.” Bill 77 and others like it ignore these facts, and look to the government to perpetrate an un-scientific politically-motivated ideology.
Expansion of State into Realms Outside its Authority
In our secular-humanist society, individuals increasingly rely on the state as the ultimate arbiter of justice and good. The state continues to expand into areas that are under the authority of other governments, including self, family, and church. Counselling on matters pertaining to children should be a decision made by the children’s parents, not the state. Parents have authority over their children, love their children, and are the most suitable for making decisions pertaining to their children’s well-being. The state can only interfere in this relationship where there is clear abuse. It doesn’t matter if the dominant ideology of the state disagrees with the beliefs of a family – the state simply has not been given authority to interfere in the parental responsibility of raising children.
Going beyond children, there are other institutions in society which exist independently of the state and which have the authority and means to assist individuals who are seeking help with brokenness. The church is one such institution and, as with the domain of the family, the state should only interfere in the relationship between a parishioner and his or her church when it has authority to do so (i.e. in the case of infringement of criminal law).
Even the College of Registered Psychotherapists in an open letter to the Minister of Health Eric Hoskins stated, “We question, however, whether a legislative mechanism is required to address this matter. We have concerns about a possible ‘chill’ effect if professionals are reluctant, as a result of legislative change, to explore issues of gender identity and/or sexual orientation with their clients – for fear of misunderstandings and possible legal repercussions.”
The Harm that Results
Individuals who undergo sex-change surgery have the highest depression and suicide rates, over 20 times the national average. There are numerous examples of those who undergo such surgeries regret it after a number of years. The issue at stake with Bill 77, is that it would ban these individuals from the kind of help they really need, to address their inner struggles and bring them to the only hope that is available for any of us.
Christian counsellors work from the basis that all human beings are broken – we all have needs that cannot be filled. The ultimate answer is found in Christ, not affirmation in our condition. As Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17). Even so, we desire to help those who are suffering. The extremely high suicide rate among people identifying as trans-gender is proof that that they experience human brokenness no less than the rest of humanity. Christians desire to assist those struggling with their sexuality. Bill 77 makes this difficult, even with possible prosecution against those seeking to love their neighbor.
Bill 77 prevents individuals from seeking the kind of help they desire. It forces them to simply accept and live with an identity they do not want and/or believe is wrong. Further, studies show that the risks of HIV infection for those living in same-sex relationships is many times higher than the rest of the population. Bill 77 forces individuals to embrace an expression of sexuality, and often an accompanying lifestyle, determined by the societal consensus and political correctness. As Dr. Scott Masson of the Ezra Institute puts it, “We need to remember that totalitarian states characteristically enlist the populace itself to intrude upon their fellow citizens’ inner lives to enforce conformity of opinion around the official view. They do so precisely because they wish to deny that man is fundamentally a moral being whose conscience lies beyond their power and control.” It is a politically motivated means to attempt to restrict those who do not conform to the “progressive” view.
Walt Heyer, is an example of someone who struggled with transgenderism throughout his life, and eventually had a sex-change surgery. He lived for almost a decade as a woman, and then, after facing severe depression and continued gender confusion, decided to change back to his biological sex. He has now strongly spoken out against sex change surgeries, arguing they don’t address the inner struggles, depression, and suicidal tendencies of trans-gender individuals, but seek to simply create a resolution through major surgery without ever considering the underlying psychological considerations that may be involved.
These proponents confuse things by arguing on the one hand that homosexuals can have characteristics of the opposite gender, and then on the other advocate for life-altering changes in individuals who do not conform to gender norms.
Bill 77 also begs the question of how society can address other ‘expressions’ of sexual identity which are currently illegal, such as pedophilia and polygamy. If an individual or individuals wish to express themselves in this way, society rightly takes action and also goes to lengths to counsel these individuals to change their sexual orientation. Does Bill 77 discourage this also?
As Barbara Kay pointed out in her article to the National Post (published June 3, 2015), “Bill 77 rewards feelings-based political activism and punishes reason-based, apolitical research. The implications of this legislation are grave.” We respectfully urge the MPPs to reconsider their decision to speedily pass this law, to repeal it, and to promote a society where freedom is upheld and individuals seeking or needing help are given this help by the appropriate institutions in a manner that is truly consistent with their well-being.
How can you respond?
If you are in Ontario or Manitoba we have created EasyMail letters for you to send to your representative to show that you are disappointed in the process by which this bill was passed, and the potential harm that it allows.
- Ontario: Bill 77 – Parental Authority undermined
- Ontario: Bill 77 – Harmful to a Vulnerable Demographic
- Ontario: Bill 77 – Based on Unsound Science
- Manitoba: Reparative Therapy Ban Undermines Parental Authority
- Manitoba: Reparative Therapy Ban Harmful to a Vulnerable Demographic
- Manitoba: Reparative Therapy Ban is Based on Unsound Science
If you are in other jurisdictions of Canada we have an easymail letter for you to send to your representative showing your concern, and asking them to vote against any similar bill should it arise in your province.
- Alberta: Reparative Therapy Bans Harm the Most Vulnerable
- British Columbia: Reparative Therapy Bans Harm the Most Vulnerable
Most importantly pray for our leaders, and those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, or trans-sexual feelings. We must be concerned for them, and reach out to them as Christ did to those in his day. Regardless of our type of sin – we all sin, and we do it because we’re looking for meaning, for a purpose, for something to fill in that hole in our souls that cries out for purpose. Jesus responds to all humans, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)