Conversion therapy ban in the works for Calgary

Notice of motion will come forward at Jan. 21 meeting

Calgary city councillor, Evan Woolley. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

Four Calgary city councillors and the mayor will push to end the practice of conversion therapy in the city with an upcoming notice of motion.

They’re following the lead of other Alberta cities that have banned the practice, which can include any treatment, counselling, or behaviour modification that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Both Vancouver and St. Albert City Councils recently passed a motion banning conversion therapy. In Edmonton, City Council voted unanimously last month to ban the practice and instituted a $10,000 fine for businesses found guilty of breaking the rules.

RELATED: Conversion Therapy in Alberta: Ryan’s Story

Led by Coun. Evan Woolley, other signees to the notice of motion include Couns. Druh Farrell, Gian-Carlo Carra, Jyoti Gondek and Mayor Nenshi.

“I was raised in a loving household by two women. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s it was impossible for them to be open about who they were, and is still the case for many of our citizens today,” said Woolley.

“I want to raise my child in a city that is welcoming of all people regardless of who they love. Conversion therapy works to counter that ideal and we as a community must stand against this hurtful practice.”

Alberta conversion therapy working group ended in June 2019

In June of last year, members of the province’s conversion therapy working group ended their examination of the issue, after a note from then-new health minister Tyler Shandro.

Later that summer, Justice minister Doug Schweitzer wrote to the federal government saying Alberta was open to a ban on conversion therapy, though noting it was already illegal in the province.

The federal justice minister has asked the Prime Minister’s Office to change the criminal code, Alberta has yet to take action itself.

“This issue is too important to sit and wait for action from other levels of government,” said Druh Farrell, Councillor for Ward 7.

“Having city council ban conversion therapy will send an important message to our LGBTQ2 community. Conversion therapy is abusive and it simply doesn’t belong in Calgary.”

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