FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New data reveals so-called “conversion therapy” practices
continue to be common across diverse groups
of sexual and gender minorities in Canada
Thursday, June 3, 2021 – As the House of Commons waits to have its final vote on Bill C-6, a bill that would prohibit conversion therapy practices in Canada, a new article published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE shows that as many as one in ten (10 %) gay, bi, trans, and queer men and Two-Spirit and non-binary people (GBT2Q) have experienced this harmful practice.
These findings come from data collected from Community-Based Research Centre’s (CBRC) 2019 Sex Now survey, which asked specific questions about the conversion therapy experiences (settings, ages, and durations) of GBT2Q participants.
“In order to fine-tune policies that can prevent conversion therapy practices, we need to understand how many people are affected, and who they are,” says Travis Salway, Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University and lead researcher of this study. Conversion therapy refers to practices that deny or devalue LGBT2Q sexual orientations and gender identities. They are associated with significant psychological harm and therefore have been discredited by multiple medical and psychological professional bodies and banned in many jurisdictions. “The data from this study can be used to hold our elected leaders and policymakers accountable to equity for LGBT2Q people in Canada.”
WHAT WE FOUND
Survey results from Sex Now 2019 (Nov. 2019-Feb. 2020) demonstrate both the prevalence of conversion therapy in Canada and the uneven exposure of conversion therapy across groups defined by age, gender identity, immigration, and ethnicity. Among the 9,214 GBT2Q participants, we found that 1 in 10 GBT2Q (10%) reported experiencing conversion therapy. Among those numbers:
- 67% experienced conversion therapy in religious/faith-based settings
- 30% experienced conversion therapy in licensed healthcare provider offices
- 72% started conversion therapy before the age of 20
- 24% attended for at least 1 year
- 31% attended more than 5 sessions of conversion therapy
Conversion therapy practices were even more common (i.e., more than 10%) among the following subgroups of survey respondents.
- Non-binary and transgender people (20%)
- Youth 15-19 years of age (13%)
- Immigrants (15%)
- Racial/ethnic minorities (11-22%)
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
“Banning conversion therapy is an important first step to prevention because it sends the unequivocal message that conversion therapy is harmful to LGBTQ2 people,” says Michael Kwag, CBRC’s Knowledge Exchange and Policy Development Director.
Beyond bans, CBRC is also recommending that Canada invest in educational strategies that consistently and assertively affirm for LGBT2Q youth that their lives & identities are valued, as well as institutional reforms (especially in religious/faith-based and healthcare settings) that identify practitioners and leaders who devalue LGBT2Q identities through conversion therapy or related efforts. Support must also be offered for those who have endured conversion therapy. Based on this survey, we estimate that more than 50,000 Canadians have experienced these practices. These individuals deserve affirming supports to heal and recover.
ABOUT SEX NOW
Developed by CBRC with recruitment from coast to coast to coast in five languages, Sex Now has been collecting and sharing valuable data on the physical and mental health of the country’s GBT2Q communities for more than twenty years. If you are interested in learning more about the 2021 study, which launched in April, please visit sexnowsurvey.com.
Community-Based Research Centre promotes the health of GBT2Q through research and intervention development. CBRC’s core pillars – community-led research, knowledge exchange, network building, and leadership development – position the organization as a thought leader, transforming ideas into actions that make a difference in our communities. CBRC was incorporated in 1999 and is a non-profit charitable organization. Our main office is located in Vancouver, British Columbia; we also have satellite offices located in Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax.
CBRC and the researchers who conducted this study are grateful to the many conversion therapy survivors who have bravely shared their stories to gives us a better understanding of these practices.
For more information about this study, please contact Travis Salway, Assistant Professor, Simon Fraser University, Faculty of Health Sciences: [email protected]
For interviews, please contact Chris DiRaddo, CBRC’s Content Strategist: [email protected]
Source: Salway T, Juwono S, Klassen B, et al. Experiences with sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapy practices among sexual minority men in Canada, 2019-2020. PLOS One 2021.
Correction: Please note an earlier version of this press release incorrectly stated that 20% experienced conversion therapy in licensed healthcare provider offices. The correct number is 30%.