Protesters call for end to 'conversion therapy' in Nova Scotia

A protest in downtown Halifax Monday evening called for a ban on so-called "conversion therapy" in Nova Scotia.

The controversial practice claims to help those in the LGBTQ+ community change their sexual orientation through prayer.

Dozens of people came out together against Coming Out Ministries, a group founded by people who used to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, but say they no longer do since turning to religion.

The associate director of the ministry, Danielle Harrison is expected to speak at Camp Pugwash later this month.

In a YouTube clip, Harrison describes her thought process.

“This actually opened the doors for more sexual sin for me,” she said. “When we start on the path of sexual sin, it grows.”

It's this kind of message that Halifax Pride executive director Adam Reid says is so dangerous.

“We know through lots of studies that young people, especially trans and queer young people, have elevated risk of suicide, suicide attempts,” Reid said. “And these sorts of messages are confusing and they tell people that they are lesser than. That maybe they need to question what they know to be true about themselves.”

Halifax Pride, along with the youth project and Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, organized the protest.

They say this therapy has no place in Nova Scotia -- or anywhere.

“This is not a process that creates happy heterosexual people,” says Sheena Jamieson of The Youth Project.“It creates miserable queer and trans people. That's all it does. And we know that.”

And others in the religious community agree.

Revered Russell Daye of St. Andrew’s United Church says the Bible shouldn't be used to hurt members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“There are isolated passages in both the New Testament and the Old Testament that speak against it,” said Daye. “But there are also passages that speak against eating lobster, there are passages that speak against touching a dead pig, which would make football anti-biblical.

Along with the protest, Jamieson started a petition to present to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and 25,000 people have signed so far.

“A lot of people have taken this opportunity to come and speak out against this,” said Jamison. “I don't know if the other side is necessarily listening, but I think all we can do is try to get louder and keep going.”