July 15th, 2019

Cheers erupt as Alberta municipality votes to ban conversion therapy


By The Canadian Press on July 9, 2019.

ST. ALBERT, Alta. – An Edmonton-area community has voted to ban conversion therapy – the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through counselling or religious teaching.

City council in St. Albert voted unanimously on Monday to approve a motion that would eliminate the controversial practice through bylaw amendments.

It calls for a $10,000 fine for anyone who advertises or performs the therapy on minors in the city.

Coun. Natalie Joly, who introduced the motion in May, says there’s no indication conversion therapy is conducted in St. Albert, but she wanted to show that it’s not welcome there.

Similar bans exist in Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and in Vancouver.

Last month, Alberta’s United Conservative government disbanded a working group which had been tasked with outlining the province’s strategy on the issue.

A number of speakers addressed council about conversion therapy before the vote was taken. A brief celebration erupted in the public gallery after the result of the vote was announced and Mayor Cathy Heron told onlookers “you can clap.”

“A motion like this is not about the year 2019. It probably should have been done many years ago,” Heron said following the meeting.

“I think many people thought this doesn’t occur any more, so I think this brings to light that it does in certain jurisdictions and we need to put an end to it.”

The motion also encourages the federal government to make conversion therapy a criminal offence. City administrators advised against the ban, saying it should be left to higher levels of government.

St. Albert is believed to be the first municipality in Alberta to pass such a ban.

Conversion therapy is opposed by the Canadian Psychological Association, World Health Organization and Amnesty International. (CTV Edmonton)

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