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Often the EFC raises concerns over bills and policies being debated in Parliament, but it’s always encouraging when we get to highlight a positive initiative worthy of support. Bill S-203, an act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit materials, is one of those initiatives. This bill will make it a criminal offence to make sexually explicit material available, for commercial purposes, to minors online. Such accountability is urgently needed, and the EFC applauds this effort.
We know mainstream pornography frequently depicts violent, degrading and dehumanizing sexual content, which is so easily accessible by children and youth, a computer click or finger swipe away. Bill S-203 proposes to set up crucial protection for minors from the harms of exposure to online pornography.
Our team has expressed our support to the senator who introduced this bill and is working with partners in Canada and abroad to help make it more likely this bill will pass.
Meanwhile the EFC is also speaking into Bill C-6, a bill to ban conversion therapy introduced by the Justice Minister in October. Bill C-6 would create new criminal offences relating to conversion therapy, defined broadly in the bill as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour.”
Many people who have experienced conversion therapy describe despair and suicidal thoughts as a consequence. We recognize that initiatives to ban conversion therapy arise from wanting to protect Canadians from such damaging effects. The EFC agrees that coercive and involuntary practices have no place in our communities or in our country.
However, we have serious concerns with the overly broad definition of conversion therapy in the bill, which includes practices, treatments and services to “repress or reduce… sexual behaviour.”
The bill is missing important clarity on what is and is not targeted by the legislation, clarity that is essential to any Criminal Code offence. The EFC has questions about whether a sermon series or a youth Bible study, for example, or other programs or religious doctrine on sexual ethics would fit the definition of a practice, treatment or service.
While in agreement with the banning of coercive and harmful practices, the EFC is seeking assurances that religious instruction, parental guidance and supportive services for individuals wishing to order their sexual lives in accordance with their religious conscience, faith identity and personal convictions will not be captured by the bill.
We ask for your prayers for this work, for wisdom, grace and favour in our interactions with MPs and senators. We also ask for you to pray that our public witness would be understood in light of God’s love and calling.
Our work also continues against the expansion of euthanasia in Canada. Bill C-7, which would remove key safeguards and allow people who are not dying to have their lives ended by “MAID,” might well have passed by the time this Canada Watch reaches you. The EFC has interacted with the government on these watershed changes and we have been encouraging Canadians to speak out against the bill. If you participated in the outcry, thank you.
More debate on this issue will be coming. Parliament is set to begin its review any time on whether to expand euthanasia to mature minors and people with mental illness as the sole underlying medical condition. We will be continuing to work with our affiliates and our partners to determine our next, best and faithful steps in this new era in our country.
How you can help
Please pray over the significant shifts in law and policy in our country. We need wisdom and discernment as we engage.
- Contact your MP on these important issues. Visit www.TheEFC.ca for updates and resources to equip you to engage. Your help is crucial.
- Subscribe to Faith Today magazine for free at www.FaithToday.ca to get regular articles and insights on issues like these.
- Your support and gifts are essential to the witness and mission of the EFC and our partners. Thank you.
Also in this issue: Family Faith Formation research project builds; Presidents Day online success; The EFC joins Canadian religious leaders to speak out on Bill C-7; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues; Message from the president; Prayer ambassador named for the EFC; Heart and hands – Insights from the work of EFC finance & office manager Kathy Brooker.