Regina city council votes in favour of taking next steps toward possible conversion therapy ban

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Regina city council is moving closer toward a potential ban on conversion therapy.

At a special meeting lasting several hours on Wednesday, council voted unanimously to bring forward a proposed bylaw banning conversion therapy for a vote in July. 

Council also voted in favour of sending the federal government a letter in support of banning conversion therapy in principle — it was amended from being in support of Bill C-6. 

The meeting took place after city administration put together a report around the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy.

Regina city administration defined conversion therapy in part as a "practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress non-heterosexual attraction or behaviours."

The Canadian Psychological Association, Canadian Psychiatric Association and Canadian Paediatric Society have denounced conversion therapy as harmful to LGBTQ people, city administration said in a report. 

The administration's report first went to the city's community wellness committee, which voted in favour of studying the feasibility of a local ban and having council revisit the issue in early 2022.

At Wednesday's meeting, city council heard from more than 30 people on the topic, with roughly an even split speaking for and against the proposals. Many people from out of the province — including from British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario — participated in the online meeting.

Joy Cowan, a reverend with Heritage United Church in Regina and a member of the LGBTQ community, called on council to enact a local ban on conversion therapy, to show the city supports its diverse community.

LGBTQ people have a right to exist and be who they are without fear of aggression or coercion, she told council.

"We are all made in the image of God. And this means that the spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations are a divine gift and an inherent expression of God. Who are we to reject that gift?" Cowan said.