City councillors in Calgary have voted to join other municipalities in the province by prohibiting businesses that claim they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
A bylaw passed Monday bans businesses that offer conversion therapy and includes a $10,000 fine for any person found to be advertising or offering conversion therapy services within the city.
Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Wood Buffalo, Rocky Mountain House, and Spruce Grove have also passed bylaws against the practice.
The city says the bylaw will operate on a complaint basis, and that every call will be investigated.
It says in a news release that the new regulations ensure the city continues to be “welcoming for all, committed to supporting equality and human rights.”
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said on Twitter after Monday’s vote that the city “has shown its striped” when it comes to “showing courage on human rights issues.”
“I’m so proud of my Council colleagues for supporting the ban on this insidious practice,” Nenshi tweeted.
Stacey McManaman, Business Strategist with the City of Calgary, said the city’s bylaw is aimed at ensuring the safety of Calgarians.
“It is important to note, that the bylaw will not apply to those businesses that provide support services for a person’s social, medical or legal gender transition, or to a person’s non-judgmental exploration and acceptance of their identity or development,” McManaman said in a news release.
The federal government, meanwhile, has tabled legislation to make conversion therapy, profiting from it and using it on minors illegal.
Introduced in March, the bill would also make it a criminal offence to cause an adult to undergo so-called conversion therapy against their will.
It would not prevent a consenting adult from voluntarily undergoing the therapy.
The Canadian Psychological Association says there is no scientific evidence that conversion therapy works but plenty of evidence that it causes harm to LGBTQ individuals, including anxiety, depression, negative self-image, feelings of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.