The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, PC, MP
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A3
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
On behalf of Pride Toronto, congratulations on your government’s re-election and your re-election as Member of Parliament for Papineau. With this new governing mandate, we are optimistic about our continued collaborative and productive partnership with the federal government.
I am writing to you to urge the federal government to take action in several priority areas that impact 2SLGBTQ+ people across the country. During the 2021 federal election, the Liberal Party of Canada committed to re-introduce legislation – within the first 100 days – to ban conversion therapy, and in the previous 2019 federal election, the party committed to end the discriminatory blood donation ban altogether.
Prior to 2013, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) were banned from ever donating blood, due to the supposed risk of spreading HIV. Health Canada then approved a change limiting donation to a five-year deferral period, provided that potential donors stayed sexually abstinent during that time.
The deferral period was decreased to one year in 2016, and then to three months in 2019. It is understood that gay men are allowed to donate blood, but only if it has been three months since their last sexual contact with another man. Under the proposed screening model, instead of donors being asked about whether or not they had been abstinent, they would instead be asked questions regarding their sexual behaviours in general (i.e. behaviour-based model).
While progress has been made over the last decade, Pride Toronto calls on the federal government to fulfil its commitment and end the blood donation ban completely.
Conversion therapy is deeply detrimental to the physical health, mental health, and spiritual well-being of our community. This is a serious issue, and no time should be wasted in addressing it. Pride Toronto urges the federal government to completely ban this unscientific practice as it creates great harm for 2SLGBTQ+ people of all ages. It is critical to understand that adults and elder folks, who are struggling with and navigating their gender and/or sexual identity, are in as much of a precarious and vulnerable position as their youth peers.
New data collected from the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) in B.C. indicates that conversion therapy practices are still common across Canada, with as many as one in ten gay, bi, trans, and queer men, as we all as Two-Spirit and non-binary people, reporting that they have experienced the practice. 2SLGBTQ+ communities are disproportionately affected by poverty, and conversion therapy creates further harm and marginalization. Internationally, the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is calling for a universal ban on the harmful practice.
Conversion therapy is an unscientific, unethical, fraudulent, and dangerous practice that must be ended immediately for the safety and well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
As Executive Director of Pride Toronto, I will be attending a live interview on CTV News on December 30th, 2021, at 7:30 am EST, to check in on the progress on the blood ban and conversion therapy. By then, I hope I will have good news to report to all Canadians, and particularly members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
We hope that you can stay true to your word, and that the government moves swiftly to fulfil your promises to end conversation therapy and the blood ban. I look forward to your response.
Sherwin Modeste (he/him)
cc: Members of Parliament from the City of Toronto
Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health
David Lametti, Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada
Katie Telford, Chief of Staff, Prime Minister’s Office
Marci Surkes, Executive Director, Policy and Cabinet Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office Sabina Saini, Chief of Staff, Office of the Minister of Health
Kathryn Nowers, Director of Policy, Office of the Minister of Health
Nicholas Daube, Director of Policy, Office of the Minister of Justice & Attorney General Alexander Steinhouse, Chief of Staff, Office of the Minister of Justice & Attorney General