Standard 3.7 Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Standard 3.7 reflects federal and provincial laws that prohibit conversion therapy while respecting the ability of registrants to have open, supportive conversations with clients about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ontario became the first province to limit the practice of conversion therapy — also known as reparative therapy — in 2015. Under the RHPA, it is an offence to provide “treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person under 18 years of age”.*
Treatments that seek to promote or provide acceptance or the facilitation of one’s coping, social supports, or identity exploration are not included in the prohibition. Registrants are not expected to avoid discussions of gender or sexual identity provided they are being conducted in a supportive manner that does not seek to influence the client’s identification.
More recently, the federal government has also prohibited the practice of conversion therapy. As of January 7, 2022, it is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison to cause another person to undergo conversion therapy. It is also a crime, punishable by up to two years in prison, to promote, advertise, or profit from providing conversion therapy.
The federal government employs a more robust definition of conversion therapy than in Ontario. The law defines conversion therapy as a “practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, change a person’s gender identity to cisgender, change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned at birth, repression of non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour, repression of a non-cisgender gender identity, repression or reduction of a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned at birth.”
Practices that seek to affirm one’s identity, relate to the exploration of an integrated personal identity, and are not based in the assumption that one sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression are preferred over another, are not included in this definition.
Please note that unlike the provincial legislation, the federal law is not exclusive to minors. Regardless of the age of the client, it is a crime under federal law to practice conversion therapy.