Health Minister Eric Hoskins having been under pressure from a New Democratic Party (NDP) bill asking for the banning of the so-called ‘conversion therapy’, says he will ask Ontario’s medical regulatory bodies to prevent the usage of this kind of treatment to the LGBTQ youth, calling it highly detestable or abhorrent.
The acronym LGBTQ stands for, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender; while ‘Q’ means, questioning their sexual and/or gender orientation or preference.
In a statement addressed Thursday to a government body having the power to make or repeal laws, Hoskins said, “this is not something this government would ever support or endorse.”
Cheri DiNovo, the New Democrat MPP and author of the bill, who has introduced it earlier this month, expressed that some physicians and therapists who believe that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is a kind of mental disorder and are billing the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for “abusive counselling sessions” intended to turn patients straight — are often at the insistence of parents and with religious nuances.
Because of this “abusive counseling sessions,”some have become suicidal or out of anguish, killed themselves. DiNovo told reporters, saying Hoskins’ approach does not go far enough and said conversion therapy should be banned for anyone eighteen and under and not covered by OHIP for anyone over eighteen.
“We need so much more from this government . . . we need the government to stand up here on behalf of the victims and fight for what is right. We’re talking about suicide here,” he added.
The New Democrat MPP initially addressed her question to Premier Kathleen Wynne, the province’s first openly gay premier, who refused to answer and passed the issue over to her health minister.
On the other hand, Hoskins said he will make a proposal or request to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and similar bodies with regulating psychologists “to seek further amending regulations to ban this practice, as it should be banned.”
According to Hoskins, “this kind of practice is not treatment,” adding that, “our Ontario Human Rights Code is very specific on issues such as this.” Being a doctor himself, he said such treatments fall under existing prohibitions against professional misconduct.
“Looking anywhere, I still couldn’t find current medical guidelines, certainly not in this province, that support or endorse this kind of alleged treatment that would aim to change or convert someone away from being LGBT.”
He also said that he is encouraging anyone who has been subjected to such treatments to report them to his ministry or the college and noted there is no billing code for conversion therapy, although it could be conducted and billed as general counseling by a physician.
DiNovo displayed an expression of scorn at Hoskin’s suggestion that a distracted or confused youth would have the necessary means to make such a report and say that a definite ban in legislation — such as laws in California and New Jersey — is needed.
She stresses further, “just imagine you’re a child, if you’re eight years old or twelve years old and you’re going to complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons? How’s that?”
The bill she’s authored goes to debate in the legislature next Thursday afternoon, but she’s not confident the Liberals will vote in its favor and may send it to a legislative committee for further scrutiny.
While it is not known how many youths are regularly given conversion therapy in Ontario, Dr. Joey Bonifacio, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children said he has treated some.
“I see young adults who have depression and are cutting after meeting a homophobic therapist. And we regularly see these families with children who are identified as transgenders, desperately looking for guidance.”Dr. Bonifacio said in a news conference with DiNovo at Queen’s Park two weeks ago, as reported by a Canadian Press.