Conversion therapy could soon be banned in Regina, after a marathon meeting Wednesday.
The ban will be in alignment with federal Bill C-6, which would make it illegal to change someone’s sexual orientation to heterosexual.
While City Council voted to back a ban on conversion therapy, they couldn’t quite back the wording of Bill C-6.
Mayor Sandra Masters says it’s important for the city to be on the side of the ban, but they didn’t want to get into the legalities of the federal legislature.
“We heard a number of concerns relative to the language,” said Masters. “Introducing the idea of just supporting a ban on conversion therapy is not unlike the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, for example. We’ll let the federal government work that out, as it’s Criminal Code, and part of their jurisdiction, it’s just that we support the ban on conversion therapy, was kind of that middle road to alleviate some of the concerns with the language.”
The debate was rather emotional, as many delegates shared their experiences of conversion therapy, and some opposing delegates were rather bigoted.
Masters says she understands why many in the LGTBQ2S+ community wouldn’t want to be involved in the debate.
“I don’t blame (LGTBQ2S+) if they weren’t either watching or were not participating as delegates whatsoever,” said Masters. “This is incredibly difficult to hear some of the opposition, but I do believe that they were looking to council to come forward with a ban on the business activity of conversion therapy in the City of Regina, and that’s what council delivered tonight.”
Masters says when there’s as many delegations as there were Wednesday, it can be tough to keep track, especially when they come from all over the country.
“Really, at the end of the day, what we were looking for was information relative to a federal law that we don’t have jurisdiction in,” said Masters. “The citizens of Regina who were presenting, their voice did hold the most weight, in fact I would suggest that the voices of the people who were absent from the delegate list held the most weight.”
The official bylaw is set to be brought before council in July.
Regina’s backing of a conversion therapy ban comes after Saskatoon banned the practice in February.