Members of the Porter Creek Secondary School Gender and Sexuality Alliance pose for a photo outside the Yukon Legislature after the ban on conversion therapy became law on Nov. 9. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Members of the Porter Creek Secondary School Gender and Sexuality Alliance pose for a photo outside the Yukon Legislature after the ban on conversion therapy became law on Nov. 9. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

New laws ban anti-gay, anti-trans therapy and enable leave for domestic violence

The two new laws received official assent in the House on Nov. 9

The Yukon legislature passed two new laws on Nov. 9. One will make homophobic conversion therapy for LGBT minors illegal in the territory and another will grant leave of absence for employees coping with domestic or sexualized violence.

The new Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act now makes the practice of conversion therapy explicitly illegal when practised on minors.

Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. The term is also used in regards to trying to forcibly deny or change a person’s gender identity and expression.

In 2019, students from the Porter Creek Secondary School’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance began a petition calling on the territory to ban the controversial practice.

“Banning it says that it’s not OK. Whereas it was a little grey line before; you haven’t made a law against this, but you shouldn’t do it. Now there’s a law against this. It’s a crime,” said Xander O’Donnell, a Grade 10 student at Porter Creek Secondary School.

“I’m just very proud of my community that we’ve accomplished this in a span of two years,” he said.

The federal government is currently proposing a nation-wide ban on the practice that includes a ban on advertising and profiting from it in addition to performing it on minors and forcing it on adults.

While the practice has been condemned by the Canadian Psychological Association and shown to cause psychological harm, the proposed ban – both nationally and it the Yukon – has seen some pushback.

NDP leader Kate White quoted a letter from a disgruntled member of the public who claimed it was an “unprecedented political intrusion” into the lives of both individuals and faith leaders.

MLA Brad Cathers originally criticized the Liberals for not consulting more widely before implementing it, but he later apologized for his comments after pushback from the Porter Creek students.

Despite that incident, the bill passed into law unanimously and was supported by all three parties.

Leave for victims of domestic and sexualized violence

The Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act adds a new provision to the existing law that will eventually provide access to paid and unpaid leave for victims of domestic or sexualized violence working in territorially regulated industries and professions.

“It will significantly lower barriers for employees by minimizing financial hardships and providing victims the time to access medical, legal, and other supports as they need,” said Community Services Minister John Streicker, addressing the House on Nov. 5.

Rates of domestic violence in Yukon are three times the national average. The rate is even higher for Indigenous women and girls.

The new expanded law applies to employees if they, their children, or people for whom they are close friends or caregivers experience domestic or sexualized violence.

It allows employees to take five days of paid leave and five days of unpaid leave which can be taken in increments. If required, a longer-term leave of up to 15 unpaid weeks can be taken.

Although the bill received assent on Nov. 9, it will not come into effect immediately. The policy will be implemented once education and support materials are developed, according to the government.

The two pieces of legislation are the second and third new laws to be granted assent since the legislature began sitting on Oct. 1

Contact Haley Ritchie at

LGBTQYukon government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read