Heather Wright/The Independent
A petition asking the federal government to abandon a bill to ban conversion therapy presented by Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu is raising concerns.
The Liberal government is trying to ban the practice which has in the past been forced on people who came out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual or two spirited.
The MP submitted the 169-name petition to the House of Commons Dec. 9. It says the bill before the house prevents people from getting counselling, advice or prayer about their “sexual confusion” and asks the government to narrow the definition of the conversion therapy or withdraw the bill.
Gladu said the majority of churches in her riding supported the petition. However several churches, including Grace United in Sarnia, said it had not been asked about the petition.
It’s unclear which churches actually put their name to the petition since it was a paper document and was not accessible online.
Officials from the MPs office told The Independent the petition was brought to the MP by constituents.
“It is my duty as Member of Parliament to present any petition brought to me by my constituents regardless of my personal views,” she wrote in an email adding she receives hundreds of emails and letters from church members from across the riding, although it was not clear it was on this issue.
The government responded to the petition Monday “Conversion therapy efforts are rooted in the premise that one’s sexual orientation and gender identity can and should be changed to a narrow ideal of what is considered ‘natural’ or ‘normal’. There is no place for the destructive, harmful, and deadly practice of conversion therapy in Canada,” said David Lametti, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General.
Gladu says it is now up to the people who forwarded the petition to take anymore action.and it is up to the petitioners to act.
In the meantime, word of the petition has sparked several churches and the local Children’s Aid Society to voice support for the federal legislation.