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Stepping Beyond Rainbow Crosswalks

Kelowna City Hall
The easy work has been done. It’s time for the next step by municipal governments.

October 24, 2021 – Kelowna, BC — Statement from and the Kelowna Task Force to Ban Conversion Therapy.

Historically, it has been a tug-of-war between Pride activism and city halls over declarations and flying Pride flags. One might say we’ve made progress and have learned to work together, however in a new era of activism where rainbow crosswalks adorn intersections across the country, locally elected officials are being asked to do more and some are pushing back.

Such is the case in Kelowna, where we sent a letter to the mayor and council requesting the city impose a ban on conversion therapy. While the official response from the City stated support for a ban at the federal level, including a copy of a letter from the Mayor to the Prime Minister, a local ban will not be considered on the grounds that the City has no jurisdiction in criminal matters.

While we acknowledge the fact that the City cannot impose laws that criminalize certain acts, that is in fact not what we are asking for. We are asking the City, under powers given by the B.C. government, to impose restrictions through bylaw.

Many municipalities across the country have implemented bylaw changes that prohibit businesses from providing conversion therapy services. This is what we are asking of the City of Kelowna. “What I find interesting is the City has restrictions in its business regulation bylaw on what tow truck drivers can do, but can’t see a way to stop conversion practices,” says founder Wilbur Turner. “I really hope council will reconsider their decision. We stand ready to support them in whatever way we can,” he added.

We believe it is reasonable to request a change to the business bylaw to prohibit businesses from providing services that seek to change the sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity of any individual.

We are calling upon our elected officials in Kelowna to step beyond symbolic acts of Pride declarations and rainbow crosswalks, all of which we appreciate, and take the opportunity to affect real change where it counts. We desire our city to be a safe space for everyone, including our LGBTQ2S+ youth who are most vulnerable to the cruel and harmful practices of conversion therapy.

Sign the petition to ban conversion therapy in Kelowna here.

About Advocacy-Canada.LGBT

We are a Kelowna-based nonprofit with a mission to unite and amplify queer voices and their allies in the community to affect positive change on important issues that make a lasting difference.

The idea for a community task force to address the issues around conversion efforts in Kelowna was formed by founder Wilbur Turner. He presented the idea to the board of Kelowna Pride Society at a meeting on June 22, 2021, and requested the support of the society. The board voted unanimously in favour of supporting the task force.