Committee approves Calgary conversion therapy bylaw; now moves to city council

Two days of public submissions accompanied the bylaw, which would see a $10,000 fine levied against violators

Calgarians celebrated the decision to ban conversion therapy in the city outside Calgary city hall chambers Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Now the bylaw comes to committee with more than 600 pages of public submissions. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

Calgary city councillors approved a draft bylaw banning the practice of conversion therapy in the city.

After nearly two full days of hearing public submissions, councillors unanimously approved the bylaw. It now requires approval at a full meeting of council.

A total of 121 members of the public signed up to speak on the bylaw. People from both sides of the issues dialed into the virtual meeting to have their say.

Written public submissions had totaled more than 1,100 at the beginning of the meeting. That was the count when the final was put together at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. More have since come in and will be included in a new package.

Experts on various topics, individuals with personal stories, and plenty of faith and non-faith driven organization affiliates provided their opinions arguing both for and against the proposed bylaw.

Members from Journey Canada, Calgary Pride, Free to Care, Affirming Connections, and various churches and LGBTQ2S+ communities around the city were all represented.

Keith Murray of Hillhurst United Church lent their perspective on behalf of survivors of conversion therapy, advocating for the bylaw’s passage.

“It is the worst kind of torture because they coerce you into inflicting it on yourself,” they said in their public submission.

Public submissions took hours

After almost two days of public testimonies, council members took to debate.

Though Couns. Joe Magliocca and Sean Chu contested some of the language in the bylaw, it remained unchanged.

Coun. Gian Carlo Carra, committee chair, said the city got the bylaw it wanted.

“This is the bylaw we asked for. It’s exactly what we asked for,” he said

“We better ban conversion therapy because the amount of people who came out to try and defend those kinds of practices is reprehensible in this day and age.”

The bylaw went to vote and was unanimously passed. It will be heard at a full city council meeting.

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