Statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Bill C-6: “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)”Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Today, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issues its response to Bill C-6: “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)” which was reintroduced by the federal government on Thursday 1 October 2020.
In a statement on the proposed legislation, the Bishops of Canada emphasize that: “The Catholic Church, like many Canadians, is opposed to any form of coercive and manipulative activities because they do not respect the sacred dignity of the human person and the freedoms inherent with that dignity.” In so far as it seeks to outlaw coercive actions against individuals, the intention behind Bill C-6 is commendable. However, following consultations with professional associations, other faith groups, and legal experts, the Bishops note significant concern with the content of Bill C-6, especially its ambiguities, which they fear could render currently lawful actions as criminal offences.
These ambiguities include, for example, the absence of a provision for legitimate, differing viewpoints on human sexuality arising from religious beliefs, philosophical debate, or scientific and medical study; the lack of provision for conscientious dissent in such matters, including teaching or public presentations; or the possibility that conversations within families, including private conversations between parents and their children on matters of human sexuality, could be deemed public and subject to prosecution, thus restricting the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their religious and ethical convictions.
In their statement, the Bishops reiterate the Church’s firm rejection of every and any coercive action and they clearly affirm the perennial teaching regarding the inherent dignity of every human person. However, the need to uphold and respect human dignity as well as to protect freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression also means Bill C-6 should not be allowed to proceed in its current form.