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TORONTO – Ontario’s largest union is calling on all parties in the legislature to support MPP Cheri DiNovo’s newly introduced bill, the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act.

“It amazes me that we even need a bill to stop a government from funding a completely discredited and dangerous practice such as so-called ‘conversion therapy’,” said Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

Bill 77, introduced by the NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, would prevent attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of patients from being covered by OHIP. It would also prohibit health care professionals from carrying out any practice seeking to direct or change the self-identified sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient under the age of 18.

At the launch, DiNovo was joined by Erika Muse, a Hamilton resident who was sent for such “therapy” when she was 16. Muse described it as “not therapeutic, but abusive,” and leaving her “feeling violated and hurt.” The therapist’s treatment, which was paid for by OHIP, left her suicidal and depressed for years, she said.

DiNovo introduced the bill following the tragic suicide in December of Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn, who suffered under similar attempts by therapists to “fix her.” The last words in her suicide note were “Fix society. Please.”

“Erika’s experience and Leelah’s tragic death underscore the need for change. There was nothing about Erika or Leelah that needed fixing,” said Patrick Hannon, a City of Windsor construction technician and CUPE Ontario’s Diversity Vice-President, LGBTQ. “It’s a society that tries to force people to be what they’re not that’s broken, and that rejection is incredibly hurtful. It’s that rejection that causes high suicide rates in LGBTQ populations.”

CUPE Ontario is proud to support the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act. As a union, we have a proud history of supporting LGBTQ workers and communities. We negotiate inclusive language into collective agreements, supported CUPE member Martine Stonehouse in a human rights case that ultimately led to gender reassignment surgery being re-listed with OHIP, and pursued the Rosenberg case, which led to recognition of same-sex spousal benefits.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications