Conversion therapy ban vote 'a step in the right direction,' says Peterson

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Kent Peterson watched as much of Wednesday’s council meeting as he could before it got to him.

He opted to close his laptop, go for a walk and tune out of the meeting, which after nearly 10 hours ultimately resulted in council voting unanimously to pursue a bylaw that bans conversion therapy in Regina.

The initial motion before council was for Mayor Sandra Masters to write a letter in support of Bill C-6 to the federal government. That was amended to say city council instead supported “a conversion therapy ban,” dropping Bill C-6 from the letter. That passed unanimously.

Coun. Andrew Stevens (Ward 3) successfully amended the motion. As such council tasked city administration to come to back in July of this year with a bylaw modelled “on that of the City of Saskatoon.”

The amendment passed unanimously.

Peterson, a spokesperson for Queen City For All, was pleased with the outcome. His organization and members of the United Church in Regina were among the first groups calling for the city to commit to banning conversion therapy.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Peterson on Thursday. He is somewhat concerned members of council will try to “water down” the bylaw when it returns to council.

Absent from the meeting, which heard from some 30 delegations, were members of the local LGBTQ community and locals who have gone through conversion therapy.

Peterson said much of what he heard at the meeting “was unforgivable.” He said if delegations cannot be respectful, then they should not be allowed to present.

When asked for comment on the decision, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina pointed to a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop.

The statement said the church is “opposed to all forms of coercive and manipulative activities,” but warned against the language used in Bill C-6.

Speaking Thursday Masters said she “was pleased with the final vote.”

“I appreciate council’s endeavours to learn as much as they can and to come to a decision to unanimously support a bylaw ban on conversion therapy,” she said.

The mayor said she and many of the city councillors had “much to learn” on matters concerning the LGBTQ community, especially transgender people.

Masters said their lack of representation spoke volumes.

“I think it is to the detriment of our entire city that there is a group of people — the group impacted by conversion therapy — that are being marginalized in this process,” said Peterson

“They’re not hearing from the local survivors.”