OTTAWA — Conservative MP Eric Duncan says as a proud gay man who lives in rural Ontario, he needs to speak up against a practice of trying to force someone to change their sexuality.
Duncan led off the Conservatives’ response to a debate in the House of Commons today on a proposed bill that would criminalize those efforts, known as conversion therapy.
He says when he made the decision to come out as gay, he was greeted with support and love but that isn’t true for everyone.
He says not long after, a young gay male in a town near his own died by suicide and he also learned of another man who was terrified of coming out and also took his own life.
Duncan says the two stories highlight the struggle people still face with their own sexuality and that people must show them compassion and care rather than forcing them to undergo therapy.
The legislation does not have broad support within the Conservative caucus and will be a free vote for MPs.
Ahead of Duncan’s speech, two Conservatives rose to press the Liberals on their contention that the bill criminalizes mere conversation on the subject. One, Derek Sloan, asked whether it would criminalize prayer.
Duncan says his caucus will be proposing an amendment to the bill to make it explicit that private conversations wouldn’t be illegal, even though the Liberals insist nothing in the bill makes that the case.