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REFOCUS: PC Opposition leader introduces legislation to ban Gay Conversion Therapy in Nova Scotia

Gerard Veldhoven
Gerard Veldhoven - FILE

By Gerard Veldhoven

Friday, Sept. 7, a day chosen for MLA’s in Nova Scotia’s House of Assembly to present bills for eventual passing. One of those bills was presented by PC Interim Leader, Karla MacFarlane. The MLA for Pictou West stood in the House to table the bill to ban gay conversion therapy.

As an invited guest, along with John Carter and Brenda Hattie, I was delighted that this issue came to the attention of our political parties. The dreadful, damaging and discriminatory practice should have been scrapped when it first came on the scene. The horrific results have been well publicized, resulting in positive action. Friday, Sept. 7, Opposition Leader Karla MacFarlane, introduced a Bill in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly that calls for the ban on gay conversion therapy. It was an emotional moment, and I was so pleased to have been asked to attend in support of the Bill. I was one of only three out of the hundreds of LGBTQ Nova Scotians present for this important presentation.

I was saddened that more from the LGBTQ+ Community could not find some time to show support. It is imperative that we all work together to make this work, and that future generations have a law in place that protects LGBTQ+ youth from dreadful practices that do irreparable harm. The Liberals are on board as is the NDP which also presented a bill to outlaw this practice.

Karla MacFarlane has made it clear that she will work together with other leaders to make this a reality. She told the CBC that “It doesn’t matter if it’s our bill, their bill, we just want to make sure that in this session the bill goes through and we all agree and I think we will”. I told the CBC that “While there’s been social progress through the years, it has not come easy or quickly. Our young people, especially, are vulnerable- young gay people. They will develop mental anguish and some even contemplate suicide and, indeed, will commit suicide in the end.”

I also reiterated that “We need to make sure that this harmful and unnecessary practice does not happen in Nova Scotia. As more progress is achieved, it remains important for young people to stand up and fight for their rights and live lives as they are meant to be lived.” We must emphasize that gay conversion therapy is a direct result of discrimination, and followed by mental instability instilled by those who deem that being gay is an abomination in the eyes of their god. By passing the law, protection is to a great extent eliminated. If ignored, charges will be dealt with in our courts. Discrimination is widespread and increasing around the world, to an extent that is cause for concern. We must fight with all that is in us to attempt to eradicate this disease. As we turn on our televisions, contact social media on the Internet, or turn the pages of our newspapers, the messages are similar. Discrimination is rampant, here in our own land, south of our border, or other countries, the beatings, the bullying, the murders, just because of the colour of our skin, the languages we speak, the way we dress, the manner in which we worship, or not at all, gender inequality, sexual orientation, or our true gender identity and expression; it is a reality. We can no longer look through rose-coloured glasses and pretend that the progress we have made is phenomenal. Not so, dear readers. The object of presenting new legislation is a great step forward and with each bill our lawmakers pass there is more strength in our endeavours for a more loving world. Thank you Legislators, for recognizing the desperate need to protect our gay youth, and indeed the LGBTQ+ Community.

Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News. Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com

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