Robert Barron

Robert Barron column: Banning conversion therapy a good move

Statistics show suicide rates among those who have experienced conversion therapy twice as high

It’s hard to believe that it’s only now, in the 21st century, that Canada has finally decided to ban conversion therapy.

For those not familiar with the practice, conversion therapy refers to organized efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of those in the LGBTQ2S+ community and somehow convert them into full-fledged heterosexuals.

To their benefit, all members of the new Parliament in Ottawa unanimously passed Bill C-4 earlier this month to criminalize the practice, and now the senate has to sign off on it as well, which it is widely expected to do.

Conversion therapy, which typically involve intense and intrusive counselling and behavioural modification, has been going on for generations in Canada and around the world, usually by very conservative churches and other organizations who are opposed to the lifestyles of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Typically, strict and paranoid parents and caregivers send their children who are different in their sexual persuasions to military-style camps where they are humiliated and bullied in an effort to get them to see that their “life choices” are wrong and they’d be far better off if they gave up on them and become good heterosexual citizens like their parents and those providing the “therapy”.

One has to wonder if any of the people who practice or advocate for conversion therapy have ever sat down and had an honest and straightforward conversation with a gay person or other members of that community, without looking down their noses at them and seeing them as lesser humans.

I say that because I’ve known members of the LGBTQ2S+ community all through my life, have considered some of them among my closest friends, and one thing I’m sure of is that they didn’t make a choice to be the way they are.

The fact is, they’ve been the way they are since they first opened their eyes after their birth, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that, despite the draconian attempts to manipulate them through conversion therapy.

Like everyone else, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community work hard in their careers and jobs, have friends and family that love them and generally try to live happy and comfortable lives.

They know who they are and, at least the ones I came to know well, are content and happy with their lives.

But they have to constantly deal with closed-minded people who think their lifestyles are wrong and try to impede them in any way they can, like opposing same-sex marriages, advocating for conversion therapy, or worse.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

I don’t know anyone who has ever had to suffer through conversion therapy, but most are young and impressionable when they attend the therapy and the assault on their very being and self identity must be crushing.

In fact, statistics indicate that suicide rates among those who have experienced conversion therapy are about twice as high as those who haven’t.

Trying to force people to be what they are not and can never be is a form of torture and I’m relieved that the federal government has finally opened its eyes wide enough to see that and make it illegal.

I’m hoping that other countries and jurisdictions where this therapy, which seems to me to be hold over from the Spanish Inquisition, is practiced are taking notes and follow our lead.

Imagine living in a world where differences are celebrated rather than condemned; it would make for a far more interesting and happier place for all.

But I fear we’re a long way from that dream.

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