Canadian civil rights law and related issues

While we’re in this thread, I might as well mention that S-202 has been made obsolete by C-8, which (if passed) will be an actual, proper, nationwide ban of conversion therapy, not just a ban on profiting from it. It will also cover taking a minor out of the country for the purpose of conversion therapy.

What will still be allowed if I’ve read it correctly is non-profit, non-advertised conversion therapy for consenting adults. (Also, the definition only covers queer-to-straight conversion, not the other way around. Cue the homosexual agenda panic! If it were to come up – and honestly, you can’t trust humans, so it might – it would clearly be an equal protection issue, but it logically follows that the courts would then order a correction.)

And this time, psychological counseling is explicitly excluded from the ban.

What’s the difference between ‘psychological counseling’ and the banned counseling?

The logic behind the non-profit thing completely escapes me. It seems to me equivalent to banning all abortion, unless it’s performed by backstreet abortionists for free.

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Time will tell how this pans out, but the risk is that anything psychological is labelled conversion therapy. It could be argued that psychology in general is completely quack, but that’s another topic.

Having a degree in the subject, my not-very-scientific estimate is that therapies derived from psychological theories are about 50% valid/useful, half of those purely by happenstance (ie., they work, but not for the reasons the theory says). The other 50% is useless quackery/superstition, of which maybe a quarter is downright dangerous or counterproductive. Much like medicine.

Regarding “conversion therapy” specifically, I think it’s fairly well established that sexual orientation/sexual preferences (and possibly gender identity) becomes more or less fixed in the years just prior to puberty. “Conversion” seems an unlikely proposition, but not entirely implausible.

I can imagine some people are extremely distressed by either their own sexual preferences or their perceived gender identity and want to be “normal”. Denying therapy to those who choose it of their own free will, however ineffective that therapy might be, strikes me as ideologically-motivated cruelty. Even if it doesn’t work, it might help people reach a state of acceptance.

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Trying to persuade someone that they aren’t gay, or shouldn’t be, results in probable psychological issues. Not being allowed to suggest that someone wasn’t identified as the wrong gender at birth results in possible physical issues which are much easier to identify.

The legal profession are going to have a bonanza with this in the future. It’s already happening.

I don’t disagree that some people think in extremist ways, but if we’re still talking about the law, it’s the law that matters, not extremist opinions.

Go ahead and have a bonanza with that. :cactus:

If it were merely ineffective, there wouldn’t be so much concern. The trouble is that it can be damaging.

The kind that’s definitely not being banned is defined above.

The kind that’s in the process of being banned has been reported to come in more than one flavor. Here’s an example:

Tl/dl: Her parents take her to a session run by church people, basically an exorcism, and they use both psychological/theological and physical means to try to banish the Demon of Perversion from her. One of them concedes that even if they succeed, the D of P might still come back later, again and again. :smiling_imp: :doh:

Other versions can be found on the interwebs, I’m sure.

All a bit legalese for me. Just so I’m clear - this bit you’ve posted says that it’s illegal to provide a practice, service or treatment that could change someone’s mind about not being cisgender, but practices, services or treatments that could help someone change their gender are OK. Is that correct?

Laws generally track opinions. If they fail to do that, nobody complies with them.

Fortunately this seems to be still up for debate, so hopefully people who are sane will debate the content.

See, this is what happens when people who know buggerall about therapy start writing laws about therapy.

An actual therapist faced with a client who says “I don’t want to be gay” would necessarily ‘explore the [patients] identity’ before even attempting any sort of conversion, and would only attempt taking that further if there were any ambiguity that could be used to deliver a positive result.

Since most psychological therapies are open-ended and have loosely-defined goals, the therapist may decide that the patient’s target is unreasonable and try to take him/her down a different path - or to stop the therapy.

The crucial point is that conversion (as commonly understood) is more-or-less impossible, so the law is banning something that isn’t even doable in theory. It’s like banning people from making perpetual-motion machines.

What is possible (if difficult) is treating a neurosis that involves some confusion of gender identity or sexuality. There are many recorded instances, for example, where women subjected to childhood abuse (not necessarily sexual abuse) find it impossible to form sexual relationships with men, and choose female partners as the next-best alternative to a life of celibacy, even though they’re not technically gay. The law would make it illegal to treat people in this position - or, at least, would make therapists wary of taking it on.

So can all sorts of therapies if misapplied. On that basis, every dietician ought to be in jail (a) because they peddle quackery and (b) their prescriptions cause immense harm. Several mainstream medical “treatments” ought to be illegal. Broadly speaking, a qualified clinician is expected to determine whether the benefits of the proposed therapy outweigh the potential risk. Sometimes he gets it wrong. The critical point here is, are lawyers likely to be more capable of making that judgement call than the clinicians on the spot, or researchers who have studied the topic in detail and guide ‘best practice’?

I think @BiggusDickus correctly parsed the meaning of that definition.

This isn’t “therapy”. We know it isn’t therapy because no qualified therapist would condone such a thing. Unfortunately, the difference between ‘abuse’ and ‘therapy’ is one of those ‘I know it when I see it’ things. Which is why the law generally allows the medical profession to regulate itself, with all the downsides that that carries.

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You keep taking the most extreme interpretation. Do you realize you’re doing that, or is it subconscious?

All kinds of things could change a person’s mind about all kinds of things. The definition clearly states that what’s being banned is designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

As I said, the ban only goes in one direction, which makes it an unequal protection. (Whether protection in the other direction is needed is another question. I’ve only seen straight-to-queer CT in a work of fiction, but as I said, you can’t trust humans…)

Sex changes and gender identity changes are already allowed, and to the extent that they’re already allowed, they won’t be disallowed.

No argument from me. :slightly_smiling_face:

And yet it keeps happening, which is why they’re bothering to make a law about it.

I’m consciously interpreting it as I predict trans rights activists will.

Fify. (Or do you honestly believe the extremist minority of trans activists speaks for all trans activists?)

It doesn’t really matter who does it, it’s whether it will be possible to do. I realise that you consider this to be an inevitable aspect of law.

Jessica is a trans activist. How many other trans activists are like her I don’t know, but she is one. I do know that there is opposition from many trans activists to any psychological explanation of what they consider to be a biological fact. Or perhaps a social construct, but however they view it their gender is not something to be debated.


Something must be done.
This is something.
Something has been done.

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Exactly, and the number of cases goes down. Not sure what your point is.

True. And do you apply the same principle – allowing an extremist to represent an entire group – to all groups, or just certain ones? If the latter, it’s called bias.

Anything that people are physically capable of, someone, somewhere, sometime, might do. That’s not the tyranny of law. That’s the tyranny of freedom, of free will. My advice is to take it up with the creator of the universe.

Correct me if I’m wrong here. You’re terrified that a Jessica type will make a complaint against some innocent psychologist for saying something ever so vaguely transphobic and call that an instance of practicing CT, even though no reasonable person would think so, and all because of this law, just like what happened with Jessica’s complaints about the salons that wouldn’t wax her balls. Right?

The good news for you is, this is under the Criminal Code and not the Human Rights Code, so it’s for the police to deal with, and I don’t think your Orwellian nightmares have nearly as much to say about them as about the human rights tribunals/commissions.

But it will be possible to accuse someone of a crime that didn’t even (technically) exist before, you say. True. That’s what happens when you add something to the Criminal Code. People who are actually practicing CT will need to decide whether to stop outright, change their methods, or go underground (or leave the country). Other than the underground part, that’s what the law is supposed to accomplish. People who don’t practice CT but are involved in things that could be mistaken for it at first glance will adjust their practices to make sure it’s crystal clear that they’re not breaking the law. That’s a side effect, and perhaps it’s unfortunate, but if you work in a controversial field that’s something you need to put up with (like for example if you’re a content moderator, you probably err on the side of caution in borderline cases of hate speech, pornography, defamation, etc.). In a worst case scenario, you could be investigated, but you have the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, like anyone else accused of a crime.

The main alternative is, don’t pass the law, and let people go on practicing CT openly. That means letting the cases of severe psychological damage continue to pile up. (Oh and in case you hadn’t heard, some of these “therapists” use physical violence, not just physical restraint, and some use methods like feeding people their own feces, and some even murder their patients. Obviously those things are already illegal, but without a ban on CT, people who want to use those methods have a convenient cover to hide behind.)

The other alternative is, adjust the wording to try to make everyone happy, but that’s a very tall order.

Fyi Canada is not a pioneer here. Several jurisdictions have already banned CT, in some cases only for professionals (which means anyone can do it and say ah but it’s okay because I’m not a doctor), which is a pretty big loophole, but in a few it’s banned outright for minors and non-consenting adults, or even banned completely.

Ecuador classifies CT as a form of torture, with no distinction as to whether it’s queer-to-straight or straight-to-queer (if my Spanish is right).

(I suppose technically that’s not an absolute ban, but you would have a hard time arguing that CT doesn’t subject the patient to methods that nullify the personality or diminish phsyical or mental capacity, even while not causing physical or mental pain or suffering, as GT would translate it.)

Germany has a ban for everyone except consenting adults, with a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind it.

The German legal defintion of CT:

Besides consenting adults, the German ban makes a further exception.

For some of these bans, it’s not clear (from the Wiki article) whether it’s an outright ban or just a medical ban. Then there’s this:

So, are you scared the 警察 are going to raid your doctor’s office next time you’re there and send the poor fellow to a cisgender gulag? Maybe they’ll just round up everyone who’s there? :no_mouth:

If that really keeps you up at night, you could go back to the motherland, since BoJo doesn’t seem interested in a ban. But hurry – the CoE has actually asked the government to ban CT! It’s probably coming in the next few years.

And when Britain falls like so many dominoes… you can still take refuge in… Malaysia! :rainbow: :desert_island: :cocktail: :sunglasses:

Yes, Malaysia, where the government actually encourages CT. You certainly won’t be arrested by the thought police there. Oh, well actually, you might be if you get into politics. :doh: But at least when it comes to Jessica’s balls, you’ll be safe. Ask Andrew what the place is like. :upside_down_face:

I’m not terrified and I don’t feel like I live in an Orwellian nightmare. I’ve calmly predicted what I think will happen. I’ve not used an extremist to label an entire group, such as using an example of someone forcing people to eat their own feces.

I don’t have strong feelings about this legal change, other than I can see how it is going to be abused. That’s part and parcel with the law in your view. It’s really not a big deal. I don’t particularly like psychology or counselling anyway. It’s a bunch of BS IMO.

Do they? Why? And is that perhaps offset by unintended consequences elsewhere?

Simply that almost all countries have a bunch of mature laws and/or precedents that apply to the scenario you describe - or, if they don’t adequately address the problem, then they are improperly formulated and need to be corrected. It boils down to a classic governmental failure:

  • There’s a problem with X.
  • OK. Let’s change Y so that nobody notices there’s a problem with X.

The whole argument here reminds me of the introduction of ‘hate crime’ laws. If I beat the crap out of someone, does it matter if I did it because he’s black, or simply because I thought it was a good idea at the time? The outcome for him is the same regardless, and I doubt if he cares what my motivation is.

Likewise, kidnap and brainwashing (which is basically what we’re talking about here - possibly also child abuse depending on the age of the person involved) is illegal almost everywhere. The fact that it’s religiously-motivated is neither here nor there. The fact that someone has described it as ‘therapy’ is neither here not there.

Hate crime laws are highly divisive because instead of the crime being an individual against an individual, it becomes labelled or perceived as a group identity against a group identity.

Which (I would have thought) is legally impossible. It’s either a thought crime, or a crime against something that has no legal identity - no ‘personhood’.