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Mayor Don Scott introduces motion to ban conversion therapy

Last Updated Oct 10, 2019 at 5:22 pm MST

PHOTO. Mayor Don Scott, from 2018. MYMCMURRAY/Melanie Walsh.

Mayor Don Scott introduced a notice of motion to ban conversion therapy in Wood Buffalo.

If passed, the motion asks the Municipality to prepare a bylaw prohibiting the license, practice and promotion of conversion therapy.

Mayor Don Scott said he held a meeting with members of the local LGBTQ community before Pride YMM.

“Prior to that event, they lobbied me and encouraged me to bring forward the motion to prohibit, as much as possible, conversion therapy. I was very happy to fulfil that commitment.”

Mayor Don Scott pointed to ample evidence from medical and psychological communities about the dangers of conversion therapy.

In 2012, the World Health Organization stated conversion therapy poses a “severe threat” to health and human rights.

Also, the Canadian Psychological Association warned in 2015 it can result in distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction.

Kristopher Wells, a Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at MacEwan University, said many consider it abuse.

“It’s part of a larger trend that we’re seeing not only across Canada, but North America — this movement to end conversion therapy.”

Celebrate diversity

The motion is similar to one passed in St. Albert, Alta., the first of its kind in the province.

It’s unknown if the practice already took root in the region.

Nevertheless, Mayor Don Scott said he won’t risk public safety.

“There’s always a concern these things are happening under the table. If that’s the case, then let’s make sure it is not being practised anywhere, either under the table or [above] the table. We want to make sure that people are safe.”

Calgary, Edmonton, and Sherwood Park are also considering similar bylaws.

If passed, Mayor Don Scott said the bylaw would look at all mechanisms for enforcement and include a $10,000 fine.

“If you simply have a law with no sanction attached, then it’s not very prohibitive. We want to send a strong message this is something that’s not going to be approved in our region.”

Keeping an open mind, he asked that residents come forward with their thoughts and ideas about the motion.

“Speaking for myself, my Council, colleagues, we celebrate diversity, and we welcome all individuals no matter how they identify as people. That’s really at the heart of this motion: We want everyone to feel part of Wood Buffalo, and this motion is going to take one more step in that direction.”

RMWB Council will debate the motion at their next meeting on Oct. 22, 2019.

They also debated the 2020 Municipal Census, the Fort McKay Community Centre, and the budget for Rogers Hometown Hockey.

This article includes excerpts from The Canadian Press.