Top News

REFOCUS: Religious influence on gay conversion therapy; governments must listen

Gerard Veldhoven
Gerard Veldhoven - SaltWire File Photo

By Gerard Veldhoven

Further to the federal Liberal government’s action not to ban gay conversion therapy, we keep hearing and reading about how this procedure is a mental health issue. That is partly the case, however, it all begins with far-right religious beliefs that emphasize being gay is not in favour with God, and therefore must be "healed."
So, how do we reply to that belief, and why are we opposed to that ideology? 
As people, we come in various personalities, make-up, the way we look, how we present ourselves, our sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. These are our human qualities and, of course, let us not forget our four-legged creatures, and others. As such, we may differ, but we are all the same somehow. We sleep, we consume food, our thoughts may differ, our decision making may not be of another, we receive our education, and we go to work in order to house ourselves and put food on the table. We do this in various ways. Taking into consideration the reason for this column, we differ in sexual orientation and that is at the centre of this controversy.
Our governments – federal and most provincial – have ignored requests from those who are concerned with medical eventualities as a result of the procedure, and/or the discrimination that is at the centre of this dilemma. First, those in power must realize this is a religious-based program that is a result of discrimination in accordance with biblical teachings, (as they indicate). We can always count on governments to hesitate on acting if it involves religious beliefs. 
In this case, they will emphasize the mental health issue of the equation, and because of the controversy, will simply not mention the word "discrimination." Looking for reasons why governments reject action to protect gay people from this drastic and horrific practice, one may conclude religious influence trumps the right for gay people to exist. This ludicrous idea boggles the mind. Government officials seem to say it is quite alright to alter a person’s sexual orientation because the religious right demands it. 
Secondly, an outright ban is the only answer to end this program that the medical community has already indicated does not work, and has terrible consequences which result in mental illness and, in some cases, suicides. The only concern seems to be the young teens who are gay, but let’s be frank and emphasize that those adult gays who are mentally not able to protect themselves, must also be considered, as must those of any age. In other words, our governments must, and have the responsibility, to end this procedure, and put a total ban in place. 
As mentioned previously, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood in the House of Commons and apologized to the LGBTQ+ community for past wrongs vowing never to return to those horrific actions by governments. By his side was the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Randy Boissonnault, who tearfully stood by his boss, an indication that better days were ahead. I truly believed that sincere efforts were made, and I rejoiced with millions of others. Subsequent announcements have been made since that great day. This begs the question, why does our federal government reject a call to ban gay conversion therapy and, in doing so, perhaps keep thousands from being exposed to this horrible discrimination that may lead to mental instabilities?
Discrimination is a curse that human kind cannot seem to eradicate, and with governments in denial that this is a fact, gays are subjected to this religious idea, which is blatant discrimination. Discrimination is one of the worst offences of our time. I call on our elected officials to take this seriously, ban gay conversion therapy, and save lives. May we possibly see a future when religions accept us for who we are? The government has announced a willingness to act over the summer. A total ban must be the end result.


Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime gay rights activist and a current resident of Pictou County. Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com 
 

Recent Stories