Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl says he abstained from last week’s House of Commons vote on the anti-conversion therapy bill Bill C-6 due to its “fundamental flaws” and lack of protection for parental rights and religious freedoms.
Strahl was one of two Conservative Party MPs who abstained, while another seven voted against in the 308-7 vote.
Bill C-6 received second reading in the House of Commons on October 28, before being sent to the Justice and Human Rights Committee for further study and debate.
“Canada’s Conservatives agree that conversion therapy is wrong and should be banned,” MP Strahl said in an emailed statement on Nov. 2. “No Canadian should be forced to change who they are. We know that too many Canadians have been harmed by this practice.”
The local MP makes it crystal clear that parliamentarians have a responsibility to “protect the most vulnerable” including “members of the LGBTQ community who have been the target of degrading or dehumanizing practices in an effort to change their sexual orientation against their will.”
His personal take on conversion therapy is unequivocal.
“I am strongly opposed to conversion therapy,” Strahl stated. “If Bill C-6 simply banned this abhorrent practice, I would have voted in favour. I abstained from voting on Bill C-6 because it contains fundamental flaws that could make religious teachings on sexuality or good-faith private conversations between parents, pastors and counsellors on important personal matters, such as sexual orientation or gender identity, criminal code offences.”
The Conservative Party is seeking “significant, reasonable” amendments to C-6 to ensure the legislation effectively protects parental rights and religious freedoms.
“Our amendments focus on ensuring that voluntary conversations between individuals and their teachers, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, faith leaders, doctors, mental health professionals, friends or family members are not criminalized.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We need to get this right, not divide Canadians, which is exactly what the Liberals are trying to do.”
READ MORE: Bill won’t criminalize conversations
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