Kelowna to lobby feds to ban conversion therapy

Conversion therapy opposed

Kelowna city council has condemned the practice of conversion therapy.

In a rare move, city council took a stance on the issue which falls outside its jurisdiction.

The motion, unanimously approved by council, strongly condemns the practice of conversion therapy and authorizes the mayor to write to the federal government asking that legislation that would make conversion therapy illegal in Canada be re-introduced in Parliament.

However, council fell short of instituting a bylaw banning outright conversion therapy within city boundaries.

That request had been made by Advocacy-Canada.lgbt and the Kelowna Task Force to Ban Conversion Therapy.

Mayor Colin Basran, at an open meeting the previous Monday morning, said the city did not have the authority to institute such a bylaw.

City clerk Stephen Fleming confirmed that stance earlier today.

"It is outside the city's authority to impose such a ban, based on our interpretation of the British Columbia Community Charter and B.C. case law," said Fleming.

"Other municipalities and other provinces may very well have such an authority. This is good example that authorities differ in local government by province thank to the BNA Act and the Constitution Act in that each province is responsible for establishing what authorities each municipality has."

The original motion brought forward by the mayor asked only that the letter be sent, however, Coun. Mohini Singh suggested the city do more.

She wondered how.

"A letter is great, but also a motion saying we as a city condemn the practice of conversion therapy, and in no way stand by that," she said.

"We believe so strongly in inclusion, I believe it will send a strong message to the public that this is our position."

Coun. Brad Sieben says be believes those people who have reached out to council are looking for a strong statement against conversion therapy, but warns the city needs to be careful how it achieves that.

"I think our best path is the path we are taking is to lobby the federal government. This has to get back onto the table...and finished," said Sieben.

"That is what is going to make a difference.

"I think this is a pretty strong statement, and shouldn't be thought of as council not taking a strong position."

The motion came as Kelowna's LGBTQ2S+ begins celebrating Pride Week. Mayor Basran closed out Monday's council meeting proclaiming this Pride Week in Kelowna.

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