FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – MP Bob Zimmer says he is against conversion therapy but voted against a bill that would ban it because of the current wording.
During a vote on Wednesday, Zimmer, the M.P. for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, was one of only 7 M.P.’s to vote against Bill C-6. The bill would ban conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is a discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Zimmer said he is against the practice. “Make no mistake, I am opposed to the practice of conversion therapy.”
Zimmer went onto say in a statement that he is against the wording of the bill. “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 Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will review the current legislation before it comes back to the House of Commons for a third and final vote. Zimmer says he wants some of the language to be changed. “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.”
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole allowed M.P.’s to have a free vote on the issue. O’Toole voted in support of the bill.
O’Toole told the Canadian Press that reasonable amendments are necessary to clarify whether the bill would ban conversations between parents and children and any religious leaders.
Justice Minister David Lametti says the bill does not criminalize conversations between family members.
The American Psychiatric Association has clarified that “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”