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CMHA statement on conversion ‘therapy’

Conversion therapy’ is a harmful practice that puts the mental health of 2SLGBTQ+ people at risk

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most extensive community mental health organization in Canada with a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory. CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. 

CMHA strongly condemns conversion “therapy” or conversion practices (also known as “reparative therapy”, “reintegrative therapy” or “aversion therapy”) which are any treatment, practice, or sustained effort that has the effect of denying, repressing, discouraging or changing a person’s non-heterosexual sexual orientation, non-cisgender* gender identity or gender expression, or any behaviours associated with a gender other than the person’s sex assigned at birth. Conversion practices can include talk therapy, behavioural or aversion therapy, group therapy treatments, medical or medication-induced treatments.[1]

Mental health professional associations, health care providers, allied professional groups, international human rights experts,[2] global organizations,[3] 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and organizations, as well as many of those who have been subjected to conversion therapy[4] have publicly denounced the practice citing the harmful impacts on mental and physical health of people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. These non-affirming techniques, which undermine individuals’ gender and sexual identities and their human rights to autonomy and integrity, are not based on medical best practice, evidence or ethical standards. Studies have consistently shown the practice entails negative outcomes including depression, anxiety, social isolation, self-hatred, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide or suicidal thoughts, delayed coming out, among other factors.[5]

Conversion therapy is rooted in harmful, stigmatizing and discriminatory beliefs about non-heterosexual orientations and non-cisgender identities and diverse gender expressions. CMHA’s values are rooted in respect for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals’ sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions through the provision of affirming and inclusive care. CMHA stands proudly in solidarity with 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in recognizing their right to access quality, comprehensive and evidence-based mental health care, free from stigma, oppression and discrimination.

We call on everyone who practice ‘conversion therapy’ to immediately cease this dangerous practice.

*cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth


[1] https://www.noconversioncanada.com/what-is-conversion-therapy and https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10508420701713014

[2] UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/SexualOrientation/ConversionTherapyReport.pdf

[3] Ex.: Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Psychiatric Association.

[4] https://bornperfect.org/survivors/

[5] https://www.cbrc.net/sex_now_survey_results_reveal_prevalence_of_change_efforts