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Flyers flouting conversion therapy ban frustrate southeast Calgary homeowner

Somewhere between infuriated and sad.

That’s how one Willow Park resident feels after finding flyers making claims against Calgary’s proposed Conversion Therapy Ban Bylaw.

Last week, councillors unanimously approved a bylaw in committee that would see the practice banned in Calgary. The public submissions went over two days, with both sides presenting.

The final approval comes May 25 at a full meeting of Calgary city council.

The flyers, from Canada’s Christian Heritage Party (CHP), were hung on door knobs all around the Willow Park neighbourhood.

Sharon, who only wanted to use her first name for privacy reasons, said she discovered the flyer while gardening May 16.

She saw “a fellow in a yellow shirt [with] something about Jesus on the back” walking away from her door, and she didn’t think anything of it initially.

When she went go inside, she found the flyer. Further investigation showed that the flyer was hung on all her neighbour’s doors as well.

“It was infuriating,” she said

“My first thought, when I read it, was ‘just come out and say what you think,’ like, don’t beat around [the bush].”

Fringe political party behind the campaign

Tom Lipp, a member of the CHP, organized this flyer campaign to rally support against the bylaw. Roughly 5,000 of the door hangers were printed and intended for distribution ahead of council’s meeting.

Lipp said the front was designed to get people’s attention. The back explains further.

“Most people are ignorant, they’re just unaware of what is being proposed by the anti-God group,” he said in a video interview with CHP Deputy Leader Peter Vogel, while holding up the flyer.

“It’s really bad government is what they’re proposing here.”

A primary argument of Lipp’s and others opposing the bylaw is that it infringes of freedom of speech and private conversations. They also argue the definition of conversion therapy in the bylaw. They call it “vague.”

Unanimous decision to approve at council committee

Coun. Druh Farrell, argued against this perspective at the May 13 committee meeting.

“The most subtle form of torture is giving an indication to somebody that who they are, their identity, what they relate to, is somehow wrong, and somehow not enough,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as the conversations that you have with people that make them feel worthless that do so much damage to the society.”

Conversion therapy often involves these kinds of conversations, which Coun. Farrell called “formalized, systemic bullying.”

Sharon, who doesn’t have firsthand experience with conversion therapy said she “knows enough” to know that what the CHP is saying was “not OK.”

After discovering the door hanger, Sharon quickly sent photographs to Shone Thistle, a friend and the board president for Calgary Pride.

Thistle shared those photos on Twitter, asking followers to email councillors in support of the bylaw.

The city will vote on the bylaw on May 25. To provide your thoughts, follow this link