In a letter to the country’s justice secretary on Friday, the prime minister stated that banning the controversial practice of attempting to forcibly change people’s gender or sexuality must be a “top priority”.
He said the Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti must work to ”amend the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy and take other steps required with the provinces and territories to end conversion therapy in Canada”.
The order was included in a “mandate letter” from Mr Trudeau outlining his top priorities following the Canadian elections in October, in which he lost the majority he had won in 2015 but won enough seats to form a minority government.
MacEwan University professor and longtime anti-conversion therapy advocate Kristopher Wells said he was “very pleased” to see Mr Trudeau prioritising a ban on conversion therapy so quickly following the election.
“This is a real opportunity for Canada to show leadership on the world stage when it comes to passing the strongest legislation in the world. To clearly demonstrate that conversion therapy has no place in our society or civilization,” he said.
Canadian politician Spencer Chandra Herbert echoed his remarks, tweeting: “Great to see the federal government has heard the loud request from LGBT+ Canadians, and many allies to ban conversion therapy in all provinces and territories across Canada.
“I will work with the minister, and anyone else to see this horrible practice ended everywhere.”
There are no official reports tracking conversion therapy in Canada, but figures for the US published in 2018 as a whole show that nearly 700,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults had received it. Researchers estimated that an additional 57,000 young people would receive the reparative therapy from a religious advisor before they reached adulthood.