PC Op­po­si­tion leader in­tro­duces leg­is­la­tion to ban gay con­ver­sion ther­apy in Nova Sco­tia

The News (New Glasgow) - - OPINION | LETTERS - Ger­ard Veldhoven

Fri­day, Sept. 7, a day cho­sen for MLAs in Nova Sco­tia’s House of As­sem­bly to present bills for even­tual pass­ing. One of those bills was pre­sented by PC in­terim leader Karla MacFar­lane. The MLA for Pic­tou West stood in the House to table the bill to ban gay con­ver­sion ther­apy.

As an in­vited guest, along with John Carter and Brenda Hat­tie, I was de­lighted that this is­sue came to the at­ten­tion of our po­lit­i­cal par­ties. The dread­ful, dam­ag­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tice should have been scrapped when it first came on the scene. The hor­rific re­sults have been well pub­li­cized, re­sult­ing in pos­i­tive ac­tion. Fri­day, Sept. 7, Op­po­si­tion Leader Karla MacFar­lane, in­tro­duced a bill in the Nova Sco­tia House of As­sem­bly that calls for the ban on gay con­ver­sion ther­apy. It was an emo­tional mo­ment, and I was so pleased to have been asked to at­tend in sup­port of the bill. I was one of only three out of the hun­dreds of LGBTQ Nova Sco­tians present for this im­por­tant pre­sen­ta­tion.

I was sad­dened that more from the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity could not find some time to show sup­port. It is im­per­a­tive that we all work to­gether to make this work, and that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions have a law in place that pro­tects LGBTQ+ youth from dread­ful prac­tices that do ir­repara­ble harm. The Lib­er­als are on board as is the NDP which also pre­sented a bill to out­law this prac­tice. Karla MacFar­lane has made it clear that she will work to­gether with other lead­ers to make this a re­al­ity. She told the CBC that “It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s our bill, their bill, we just want to make sure that in this ses­sion the bill goes through and we all agree and I think we will.” I told the CBC that “While there’s been so­cial progress through the years, it has not come easy or quickly. Our young peo­ple, es­pe­cially, are vul­ner­a­ble — young gay peo­ple. They will develop men­tal an­guish and some even con­tem­plate sui­cide and, in­deed, will com­mit sui­cide in the end.”

I also re­it­er­ated that “We need to make sure that this harm­ful and un­nec­es­sary prac­tice does not hap­pen in Nova Sco­tia. As more progress is achieved, it re­mains im­por­tant for young peo­ple to stand up and fight for their rights and live lives as they are meant to be lived.” We must em­pha­size that gay con­ver­sion ther­apy is a di­rect re­sult of dis­crim­i­na­tion, and fol­lowed by men­tal in­sta­bil­ity in­stilled by those who deem that be­ing gay is an abom­i­na­tion in the eyes of their god. By pass­ing the law, pro­tec­tion is to a great ex­tent elim­i­nated. If ig­nored, charges will be dealt with in our courts. Dis­crim­i­na­tion is widespread and in­creas­ing around the world, to an ex­tent that is cause for con­cern. We must fight with all that is in us to at­tempt to erad­i­cate this dis­ease. As we turn on our tele­vi­sions, con­tact so­cial me­dia on the in­ter­net or turn the pages of our news­pa­pers, the mes­sages are sim­i­lar. Dis­crim­i­na­tion is ram­pant, here in our own land, south of our bor­der or other coun­tries, the beat­ings, the bul­ly­ing, the mur­ders, just be­cause of the colour of our skin, the lan­guages we speak, the way we dress, the man­ner in which we wor­ship, or not at all, gen­der in­equal­ity, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, or our true gen­der iden­tity and ex­pres­sion; it is a re­al­ity. We can no longer look through rose-coloured glasses and pre­tend that the progress we have made is phe­nom­e­nal. Not so, dear read­ers.

The ob­ject of pre­sent­ing new leg­is­la­tion is a great step for­ward and with each bill our law­mak­ers pass there is more strength in our en­deav­ours for a more lov­ing world.

Thank you, leg­is­la­tors, for rec­og­niz­ing the des­per­ate need to pro­tect our gay youth, and in­deed the LGBTQ+ Com­mu­nity.

Ger­ard Veldhoven is a long­time ac­tivist for the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. His col­umn ap­pears weekly in The News. Com­ments and in­for­ma­tion: lgbt­con­nec­tion­sgv@gmail.com.

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