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Campaign to Ban Conversion Therapy in Kelowna has launched a campaign to have the City of Kelowna enact a bylaw to ban so-called conversion therapy in Kelowna. Conversion therapy is a medically and scientifically debunked practice used to attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. There is no evidence that this practice is effective, and a great deal of evidence that it causes lasting harm.

To support a formal request to the mayor and council an online petition has been started to gather support. You may view and sign the petition here.

A conversion therapy ban has been in the news with the federal government introducing Bill C-6 to criminalize certain aspects of this practice, and with parliament being dissolved for a fall election the bill did not clear the Senate. The Liberal government has promised they will bring the bill before parliament again to get it passed. Dozens of conservative members of parliament voted against the original bill, mainly citing concerns with the definition of conversion therapy which appear to have originated from a religious lobby group.

There are 18 municipalities in Canada that have either introduced or are drafting bylaws to ban conversion therapy within their jurisdiction. Many of them have passed motions supporting the federal ban as well. You may ask, why is it important for a local ban if there will be a federal ban? This is a great question. All levels of government should be addressing this issue as we need all the tools possible to ensure this harmful practice has no place in our communities. One of those tools is a local ban. What this means is that individuals and organizations that do practice conversion efforts will think twice before carrying them out here. The following are some of the other reasons municipalities have enacted a ban:

  • promoting the physical and psychological well-being, safety, security, dignity, inclusion, and equality of LGBTQ2 persons and all city residents;
  • protecting vulnerable citizens of all ages from dangerous, deceptive, and abusive practices;
  • restricting and preventing harmful, unscientific, and fraudulent practices from occurring within their community;
  • encouraging citizens to report conversion therapy practices if they are occurring within their community; and
  • reiterating a city’s values and beliefs in creating and supporting a diverse, welcoming, inclusive, safe, and supportive community for all of its citizens.

Dozens of municipalities, counties, states, provinces, and territories across North America have passed bylaws, ordinances, and policies prohibiting conversion therapy within their communities. In the case of municipalities, most
provincial or territorial governments allow cities, towns, and counties the flexibility to create their own bylaws relating to:

  • respecting the safety, health, and welfare of people;
  • protection of people and property;
  • people, activities and things in, on or near a public place;
  • businesses, business activities, and persons engaged in business; and
  • enforcement of bylaws including the creation of municipal offences and also allows for each offence, fines up to a set amount or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

Most municipal governments are also allowed to:

  • pass bylaws regulating or prohibiting, and providing for a system of licences, permits or approvals including establishing fees for licences, permits and approvals;
  • prohibit any activity, industry, business or thing until a licence, permit or approval has been granted;
  • impose terms and conditions on any licence, permit, or approval and who may impose them;
  • identify the conditions that must be met before a licence, permit or approval is granted or renewed, the nature of the conditions and who may impose them;
  • provide for the duration of licences, permits and approvals and their suspension or cancellation for failure to comply with a term or condition or the bylaw or for any other reason specified in the bylaw; and
  • provide for an appeal, and the body that is to decide the appeal and related matters.

It is time that it is made known these harmful practices are no longer welcome in our city. Together we can help make Kelowna a safer place for all.