JUSTICE: Protecting rights of 2SLGBTIQ+ youth with prohibition on harmful therapy
Legislation was introduced Sept. 11 to prohibit the use of a discriminatory and harmful therapy that attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of young people who identify as 2SLGBTIQ+.
"Nova Scotia does not condone sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts or the concept that anyone from the 2SLGBTIQ+ community requires treatment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Justice Minister Mark Furey. "A person's sexual orientation is something to be respected, especially in a proudly diverse and inclusive province like Nova Scotia."
The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act will protect and uphold the rights of 2SLGBTIQ+ Nova Scotians by prohibiting people in positions of trust or authority from undertaking such change efforts with minors.
The legislation will also prohibit regulated health professionals from providing any practice or service that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of Nova Scotians under the age of 19, the age of majority in the province.
The act will enshrine in law that these practices are not medically insured services in Nova Scotia. In addition, the legislation will ensure that public funds are not used to support organizations that provide or advocate the use of the intervention.
"This is an excellent step toward protecting 2SGLBTIQ+ youth by ensuring that people in power and health professions do not engage in these harmful conversion practices," said Matthew Numer, an advocate and former chair of the Rainbow Action Project. "This legislation is the most progressive we have seen in Canada."
Sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts refer to practices that attempt to change a 2SLGBTIQ+ person's sexual orientation or gender identity through various means including counselling, behavior modification and/or the use of medications.
"The practice of conversion therapy is harmful, it is not evidenced based and is not in the spirit of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act," said Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. "This practice does not belong in medicine. The profession condemns this practice and this condemnation is echoed in this new legislation."
Services and programs that provide support, understanding, acceptance or help with coping, identity exploration or development will not be affected by this legislation and it will not impact gender-confirming surgeries and associated services.
"Halifax Pride is pleased that the government is taking this important step to protect vulnerable queer persons from the harmful, and widely condemned, practise of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts," said Morgan Manzer, chair of Halifax Pride.