St. Albert, Alberta (Wikimedia Commons)

Alberta municipality votes to ban conversion therapy in first for province

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

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, said there’s no indication conversion therapy is conducted in St. Albert, but she wanted to show that it’s not welcome there.

“For me, it’s a statement to our youth that says we have their backs, that we love them just the way they are and that we want to make sure they have safe spaces and to know there are safe places in their community,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

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

Kristopher Wells, a Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at MacEwan University in Edmonton, said it’s a positive step for St. Albert to move forward with a ban.

“It’s part of a larger trend that we’re seeing not only across Canada, but North America — this movement to end conversion therapy, which many consider to be a form of psychological torture and abuse,” he said.

Wells said it’s particularly important in Alberta, where the United Conservative government recently disbanded a working group tasked with outlining the province’s strategy on the issue.

In St. Albert, several speakers addressed council about conversion therapy before the vote was taken Monday. 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.

Wells said Calgary, Edmonton and Sherwood Park, Alta., are also considering a similar bylaw.

“It’s hugely important that these messages get out that this does not represent the values of Albertans and I think municipalities are going to have an increasing role to play in creating these kinds of welcoming and inclusive and supportive communities,” he said.

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

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Local violinist returned home to receive a special honour

Angelina Gandolfo (Weber) received a Clearview Public Schools 2019 Award of Merit

Castor Rodeo bows for 42nd after successful 2019 event

This year featured a pair of competitors from Australia and a competitor from New Zealand

Castor resident meets award-winning namesake

Luella Kowalsky, who is a resident of Castor’s Paintearth Lodge, met ‘Miss Luella’ recently

Police investigate Castor break and enter

Performance Paint and Body Shop trailer broken into on July 5th

Buccaneers give up lead, lose 49-35 to Wolfpack

Central Alberta had 21-10 lead at half time

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Too much time on social media can hurt teens’ mental health: study

Researchers conducted a four-year survey of more than 3,800 adolescents between Grades 7 and 11

Advocates want charges in horse deaths during Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

Chuckwagon races are a nightly spectacle during the Stampede, a 10-day annual celebration of western life

Health Canada revokes licences of B.C.-based pot producer Agrima Botanicals

The agency said it notified the company of a suspension in November due to non-compliance with regulations

Deals, protests during Amazon Prime Day

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth says it is offering more than a million deals

Most Read