What is a custom?
A custom is a consistent and voluntary pattern of behavior observed by people.
In almost all societies, custom plays an important role in regulating human
behavior. It is, in fact, one of the oldest sources of legislation. However, as
society progresses, customs fade, and legislation and judicial precedents become
the primary source. The people create customs by their unconscious adoption of a
certain rule of conduct whenever the same problem arises for a solution, and its
authority is based solely on its long-continued use and recognition by the
What are Customary Laws?
Custom is a type of special rule that has been followed since immemorial.
Customary law refers to law based on or influenced by custom. The study of
custom as a source of law entails a number of aspects, including its origin and
nature, importance, reasons for its recognition, classification, various
theories, distinction from prescription and usage, and the essentials of a valid
Sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts have been a prevailing
custom in the western world that aims to fix homosexual people. As society
advanced, some people came to the realization that this custom is
psychologically harmful, and thus, there must be some action against it. In this
modern world, which is openly inclined towards homosexuals, decided to fight for
the community's rights against such therapy, and the governments of several
countries have adopted legislation to ban the practice of such activities.
Sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts, often known as conversion
therapy, are the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change an
individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to align
with heterosexual and cisgender norms. Such therapies often see gender diversity
and homosexuality as unnatural or unhealthy, in opposition to evidence-based
medicine and clinical advice. There is scientific agreement that conversion
therapy frequently results in serious, long-term psychological harm for those
who receive it and is ineffective at changing a person's sexual orientation or
History of Conversion Therapy to become a forbidden custom
The history of conversion therapy can be roughly divided into three periods: the
early Freudian period, the period when conversion therapy was widely accepted,
and the mental health establishment assumed the role of "primary superintendent"
of sexuality; and the post-Stonewall period when conversion therapy was
renounced by the mainstream medical establishment.
During the early stages of psychoanalytic history, analysts agreed that
homosexuality was not abnormal in some circumstances, and the ethical question
of whether it should be changed was debated. By the 1920s, analysts felt that
homosexuality was pathological and that treatment was necessary, yet Freudian
opinion on changing homosexuality was mostly pessimistic.
Those forms of
homosexuality regarded as perversions were frequently thought to be incurable.
Analysts' tolerance for homosexuality stemmed from an understanding of the
difficulty of effecting change. Beginning in the 1930s and for around twenty
years, dramatic shifts in how analysts saw homosexuality occurred, resulting in
a shift in analyst discourse, with some analysts feeling free to mock and
humiliate their gay patients.
During the 30 years between Sigmund Freud's (founder of psychoanalysis) death in
1939 and the Stonewall riots, most psychiatric institutions in the United States
approved conversion therapy. After a police raid, there was a riot in 1969 at
the Stonewall Bar in New York, which marked the beginning of the fight for
homosexual liberation and took symbolic significance. Following these incidents,
criticism of conversion therapy grew.
The DSM's classification of homosexuality
as a mental disease became a major focus of objection to conversion therapy. The
American Psychiatric Association (APA) eliminated homosexuality as a mental
condition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in
1973, following years of protest from gay activists and acrimonious debate among
psychiatrists. Critics claimed it was the product of pressure from gay activists
and requested a vote among the Association's voting members.
The vote was taken
in 1974, and 58% of the people approved of the outcome. There is no reliable
"research evidence that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely
change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective, does sexual
orientation need to be changed," according to a position statement published by
the APA (American Psychological Association) in 2013. APA further asserts that
moral practitioners should support psychotherapies that accept people's sexual
orientation and gender identities.
Progression in context to Canada
Conversion therapy has existed in Canada in various forms since the 1950s. It
gained prominence during the 1970s and became increasingly used by LGBTQ
Canadians. After years of calls for action and previous failed attempts to pass
a bill prohibiting conversion therapy, the accelerated all-party effort has been
praised by political leaders as well as LGBTQ advocates both in Canada and
abroad, despite some after-the-fact concerns raised by a few Conservative MPs.
According to the results of the 2019-2020 Community-Based Research Centre Sex
Now Survey, 10% of sexual minority men who responded to the survey had been
subjected to conversion therapy practices. The results also showed that
lower-income, indigenous, racialized, and gender-diverse persons are
disproportionately represented among those exposed to conversion therapy. In
their respective provinces, Ontario, Nova Scotia, PEI, Yukon, and Qu�bec had
passed laws addressing various facets of conversion therapy.
had put non-legislative measures in place, such as Manitoba, which released a
statement outlining its expectations of the province's medical practitioners to
prevent the use of conversion therapy. Some Canadian cities, including
Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County,
Lethbridge, Wood Buffalo, and Spruce Grove, Alberta, Saskatoon and Regina,
Saskatchewan, and Kingston, Ontario, had banned the practice and promotion of
Formation of the Bill
Previous attempts to pass a bill to ban conversion therapy in Canada were
unsuccessful. A similar Bill, known as Bill C-6, was first introduced in October
2020 and was last discussed in the second session of the 43rd Parliament, which
ended in August 2021. Bill C-6 did not receive final approval. Concerns were
raised about the definition of 'conversion therapy' contained in the Bill, which
was considered by many to be exceedingly broad. The Prime Minister ultimately
set aside the effort to pass the Bill.
On January 7, 2022, Bill C-4, an expanded version of Bill C-6, passed through
the entire parliamentary process, including affirmation by the Senate, and came
into effect. Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Minister for
Women and Gender Equality and Youth introduced the Bill on November 29, 2021.
December 1, members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons unanimously
agreed to adopt a motion to pass the Bill expeditiously. Soon after, the Bill
was also fast-tracked in the Senate, and on December 7, it was passed without
amendment. The Bill received royal assent on December 8, 2021. The Bill itself
stipulated that the law would come into force 30 days after it received royal
Contents of the Bill:
The proposed changes to the Criminal Code by Bill C-4 are summarized as follows:
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, create the
- causing another person to undergo conversion therapy;
- doing anything to remove a child from Canada with the intention that the
child undergoes conversion therapy outside Canada;
- promoting or advertising conversion therapy, and
- receiving a financial or another material benefit from the provision of
It also amends the Criminal Code to authorize courts to order those
advertisements for conversion therapy to be disposed of or deleted.
The definition of 'conversion therapy' set out in Bill C-4 reads as follows:
320.101 In sections 320.102 to 320.104, conversion therapy means 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 to the person at birth;
- repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior;
- repress a person's non-cisgender gender identity, or
- repress or reduce a person's gender expression that does not conform to
the sex assigned to the person at birth.
For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment,
or service that relates to the exploration or development of an integrated
personal identity � such as a practice, treatment, or service that relates to a
person's gender transition � and that is not based on the assumption that a
particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is to be
preferred over another.
Under Bill C-4, the following acts are considered illegal:
Punishments under the Bill
Each of these offenses can also be punished on summary conviction
- Forcing or encouraging someone to undergo conversion therapy
- Bringing a minor outside of Canada so that they may undergo conversion
- Making a profit from providing conversion therapy
- Advertising conversion therapy
Bill C-4 amends subsection 164(8) of the Criminal Code to define "advertisement
of conversion therapy" as "any material � including a photographic, film, video,
audio, or other recording made by any means, a visual representation, or any
written material � used to promote or advertise conversion therapy in violation
of section 320.103." Furthermore, the bill "amends the Criminal Code to
authorize courts to order those advertisements for conversion therapy be
disposed of or deleted," including from computer systems or the internet.
(Section 2(2) of Bill C-4).
In addition, the Bill expands the existing offense under Criminal Code section
273.3(1)(c), which prohibits the removal of children from Canada for "specified
purposes," to include subjecting them to conversion therapy abroad. On
indictment, this is also a hybrid offense punishable by up to five years in
Thousands of Canadians have suffered as a result of the aforementioned custom.
Misbehavior and discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community are
unjustified, and thus the practice of Conversion Therapy, which was common in
Western countries, is also unjust and illegal. Such pseudoscientific practice,
which produces no results, has no justification for inflicting pain and
instilling fear in members of the community in society.
By enacting this law, the Canadian Parliament took a significant step toward the
betterment of society. In contrast, some other countries only made it possible
for parts of their country to accept such a bill; Canada set an example for
other countries by joining the list of those who have passed legislation.
Those are Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, and Malta. Argentina, Uruguay, Samoa, Fiji,
and Nauru have all indirectly banned the practice, while the United States,
Australia, and Spain have outlawed it in certain areas. The prohibition of such
a practice allows many people to live the life they were born in without fear of
being tortured or harassed by the preachers of conversion therapy.
As a result, the fight against the custom that has taken the form of law is
justified and fully accepted by society's liberal minds.
- REPORT_-_Conversion_Therapy_in_Canada_Nov_2019.pdf (ohchr.org)
- Bill C-4: History, Concerns, and Response - The Gospel Coalition |
- Conversion therapy - Wikipedia
- Bill C-4: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)
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