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LETTER: Federal decision extremely disappointing

The federal government has decided not to ban gay conversion therapy. This is a disturbing development that follows a petition by advocates and other interested parties, including yours truly.

I wrote a letter to the government last fall, to ask our politicians to end this horrific practice. Conversion therapy is a procedure that attempts to “heal” those who identify as gay or lesbian, and is mainly practiced by right-wing religious organizations who view sexual orientation, in this instance being gay, as a sin that must be extracted from people. This damaging, discriminatory attempt tends to lead to mental confusion and even suicides.

In response to my letter, I was advised that since this is a health issue it is the responsibility of the provinces and territories.

I replied that since this is pure discrimination that leads to mental health issues, it must be addressed by federal jurisdiction. In the fall of 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House to apologize to the LGBTQ+ citizens for past horrific treatment by federal authorities. The appointment of Randy Boissonnault as special advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ+ issues was a tremendous opportunity for the Liberal government to continue with the efforts that were initiated. The LGBTQ+ population of Canada were elated by this positive action by our government. The tears that flowed during the apology spoke for themselves.

My question concerns the fact that this latest refusal plays with the minds of our young LGBTQ+ folks, as well as those who do not possess the mental capacity, or the maturity, to fight this procedure. The fact remains that this is an action that is discrimination by nature, and must be stopped as it is against the equality laws of this country. The practice does not work in any case, and is purely administered as a result of right-wing, religious intolerance and discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Discrimination remains a dreadful reality and it is hurtful and extremely ludicrous to treat gay conversion therapy as only a health issue and not be clarified as discrimination. Our politicians, both federally and provincially, must recognize this as such and act immediately to ban this discriminatory practice that is against the laws in Canada.

As an advocate for LGBTQ+ equality for over forty years, I am profoundly aghast at this decision by the Trudeau government. I call for an outright ban. By nature and with pride, we are equal, bar none. All governments must listen.

Gerard Veldhoven

Activist for LGBTQ+ equality

New Glasgow

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