Calgary bylaw now bans the practice of conversion therapy. Gender and sexual orientation equality
Calgary City Council voted to pass the Prohibited Business Bylaw (BYLAW NUMBER 20M2020) to ban the practice and promotion of conversion therapy. With this, The City of Calgary initiates new regulations to protect Calgarians, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, to continue to be a city that is welcoming for all, committed to supporting equality and human rights.
Conversion therapy has been deemed a harmful and unscientific practice. The bylaw prohibits the business practice of conversion therapy, which includes a fine for those advertising or offering conversion therapy services within Calgary.
All levels of government have a role to play in protecting Calgarians from the harms associated with this type of practice. Calgary City Council may pass bylaws for municipal purposes respecting the safety, health and welfare of people. The City of Calgary has the authority to pass bylaws concerning businesses, ensuring citizens’ expectations for safe and ethical business practices are met.
“This regulation is aimed at ensuring the safety of Calgarians,” says Stacey McManaman, Business Strategist with The City of Calgary. “The City of Calgary is developing tools that can be used as a reference to this business prohibition, that will be made available for public education purposes,” says McManaman.
The federal government has also taken steps to ban the practice. The Federal Minister of Justice has been instructed by the Prime Minister’s Office to amend the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy and take other steps required with the provinces and territories to end conversion therapy in Canada. In March 2020 the Federal Government introduced legislation to criminalize conversion therapy-related conduct in Canada. The legislation proposes five new conversion therapy related, Criminal Code offenses.
“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,” says McManaman.
In January 2020 a Notice of Motion sponsored by Councillors Evan Woolley, Druh Farrell, Gian-Carlo Carra, Jyoti Gondek, Peter Demong and Mayor Naheed Nenshi, was passed by City Council unanimously. The City of Calgary Administration was directed to develop a bylaw that, if approved by Council, would prohibit the engagement in or operation of a business that conducts “conversion therapy”.
Administration was asked to return to the Standing Policy Committee (SPC) on Community and Protective Services in May 2020 with a proposed bylaw outlining definitions of the business and enforcement practices. Council committee unanimously voted the proposed bylaw through to the Combined Meeting of Council on May 25, 2020.
Calgary is the seventh municipality in Alberta to have passed a bylaw prohibiting the practice and promotion of conversion therapy, following Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Wood Buffalo, Rocky Mountain House, and Spruce Grove.
The penalty for offence under this bylaw is a $10,000 fine for any person found to be contravening any provision of the bylaw.
The bylaw will operate on a complaint basis – individuals or businesses known or suspected to be engaging in this process can be reported by calling 311. Every call will be investigated.
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