Photo Credits: National Secular Society
This December, the Edmonton City Council in Canada approved a by-law prohibiting LGBTQ conversion therapy. The decision was made unanimously making the therapy illegal and providing fines and penalties for those who practice it. Businesses, individuals and groups reported to perform conversion could face up to $10,000 in fines and they could also lose their business license. The by-law covers both profit-driven and non profit organizations and also makes sure that faith groups and churches will not be able to claim special status as grounds for exemption.
As Patheos reports, Edmonton mayor Don Iveson called conversion therapy “psychological abuse” and “a violence” against the very people it purports to help, since it’s rooted in the idea that there’s something inherently wrong with LGBTQ people. The by-law specifically targets: “counselling or behavior modification techniques, administration or prescription of medication, or any other purported treatment, service, or tactic used for the objective of changing a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or gender preference, or eliminating or reducing sexual attraction or sexual behavior between persons of the same sex.”
This is not the first conversion therapy ban in Canada, but it is the first in Edmonton and probably the most comprehensive one because of the areas it covers and definitions it uses in order to avoid any exemptions. “This bylaw will be a model not just for municipalities in Canada, but across the world. What makes this bylaw so powerful is that it captures all forms of conversion therapy, whether they are medical, spiritual, or religious. Council has sent a strong and powerful message that conversion therapy has no place in our community and will be punished by the full extent of the law,” associate professor Kristopher Wells, who advised council during the by-law’s development, said according to Patheos.
Several other Alberta communities are considering their own by-laws against the LGBTQ conversion therapy; therefore the Edmonton's ban could be an important model for Calgary, St. Albert, Fort McMurray, etc. The positive aspects of the ban are enormous for LGBTQ people because now there is a smaller chance that they are going to be forced to undergo a humiliating, abusive and harmful procedure, the procedure that has no medical or scientific approval anywhere. This is a big step forward for Edmonton and Alberta in the area of human rights so it's no wander that the ban was symbolically approved on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.