We affirm the value and dignity of all people.
Conversion therapy―sometimes referred to as reparative or ex-gay therapy―is a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or to reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour.
What We Believe
The United Church of Canada affirms the value and dignity of all people and rejects any therapy or practice that labels LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit people as abnormal, broken, or otherwise not whole individuals. We strongly condemn the practice of conversion therapy or any efforts that attempt to change a person’s sexual or gender identity through treatment that is hostile to a person’s identity, unethical, spiritually and psychologically damaging, and not supported by evidence.
What You Can Do
Individual United Churches and members have actively spoken out against conversion therapy and successfully contributed to bans being passed in multiple municipalities, five provinces, and one territory across Canada. Thanks to the work of former Ontario MPP the Rev. Cheri Di Novo, Ontario was the first province to pass a law banning conversion therapy. The church is deeply appreciative of their leadership on this issue.
On January 7, 2022, Canada made conversion therapy illegal. This law defines conversion therapy as any practice, treatment, or service designed to change or repress a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. It makes it a criminal offence to cause someone to undergo conversion therapy, promote or advertise the practice, receive financial or other material benefits from providing it, and do anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention of making them undergo conversion therapy in another country.
Continue to educate yourself and let people know about this progressive law. Abuse is stopped only when the harmful practices are talked about and steps taken to prevent them. Laws help, but community awareness and actions bring the laws to life locally.
United Church resources
- FAQ on Conversion Therapy: Answers to some commonly asked questions.
- Gender, Sexuality, and Orientation webpage.
- Letter to PM re Conversion Therapy: On January 18, 2019, the United Church sent a letter to the prime minister stating that the church supports a ban on conversion therapy.
- Beyond the Ban: An article written by Pam Rocker, director of Affirming Connections.
- Affirming Connections: This United Church‒led ecumenical ministry in Calgary, Alberta, successfully helped to see a bylaw against conversion therapy passed in May 2020 (see the link to the faith leaders letter on their What We’re Up To page).
- “Inside the United Church-led fight against conversion therapy,” Broadview, June 10, 2020
- “I once led a conversion therapy organization,” Broadview, June 20, 2019
- CTV News’ “How religious organizations use conversion therapy to try to make LGBTQ people straight” includes W5’s documentary, Thy Will Be Done (Parts 1 and 2).
- Feature films like Boy Erased, the documentary Kidnapped for Christ, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
- American campaigns like Born Perfect and The Trevor Project are hard at work to enact legislation banning the practice of conversion therapy.