MP Bob Zimmer votes no to conversion therapy bill

MP Bob Zimmer says he opposes conversion therapy, but has problems with Bill C-6 in its current form.

Zimmer was one of seven Conservative MPs who voted Wednesday against second reading of the bill, which would outlaw the discredited practice of conversion therapy.

“Make no mistake, I am opposed to the practice of conversion therapy," Zimmer said in a statement Thursday. “However, I am concerned that the current wording of Bill C-6 leaves open the possibility that voluntary conversations between individuals and their parents, family members, pastors, teachers, or their counsellors may be criminalized."

The bill passed easily by a vote of 308-7. Conservative leader Erin O'Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs.

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O'Toole allowed his MPs a free vote on the issue, but seven of his MPs voted against it, two abstained and eight others made it clear they were supporting it only grudgingly for now, in hopes that it will be amended by the Commons justice committee.

Some Conservatives have expressed fears the bill would outlaw conversations between parents and their children or counsel from religious leaders. O'Toole himself has said "reasonable amendments" are necessary to clarify that point.

“Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association are fundamental in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and I believe the current language of this legislation is an encroachment on those foundational principles," Zimmer's statement continued.

“I will be watching to see if this language is changed when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights reviews the legislation before it comes back to the House of Commons for a third and final vote.”

The bill would criminalize the practice of forcing children or adults to undergo therapy aimed at altering their sexual orientation or gender identity.

It would also ban removing a minor from Canada for the purpose of undergoing conversion therapy abroad and make it illegal to profit from providing the therapy or to advertise an offer to provide it.

The practice has been widely discredited as cruel and traumatic.

The Canadian Psychological Association says there is no scientific evidence that conversion therapy works but plenty of evidence that it causes harm to LGBTQ individuals, including anxiety, depression, negative self-image, feelings of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction.

— with files from the Canadian Press

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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