Conversion Therapy Prohibited Business Bylaw

Upcoming Policy Initiative Prohibited Business Bylaw for Conversion Therapy

Update: February 19, 2021

Provide feedback on the Prohibited Business Bylaw

Public feedback is important to Council. Over 170 people provided feedback regarding this initiative last summer, with a strong majority supporting this bylaw. Our commitment last autumn was to share the bylaw for public feedback when it returned to Council.

We are encouraging people to provide written feedback due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, an in-person session will be available on the evening of March 17. Participants will be limited to a three-minute presentation. COVID-19 protocols will be in place, and further instructions will be provided to participants. Registration instructions are included below.

Intent of Prohibited Business Bylaw

Conversion therapy is an unscientific practice that causes significant harm to vulnerable people. This bylaw would be an action by the Town of Strathmore to protect LGBTQ2 by prohibiting conversion therapy being offered in businesses.

Defining ‘Conversion Therapy’

The definition of ‘Conversion Therapy’ used in this bylaw is: “Conversion Therapy” means a practice, treatment, or service designed to change, repress, or discourage a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment, or service that relates (a) to a person’s social, medical, or legal gender transition; or (b) to a person’s non-judgmental exploration and acceptance of their identity or development.

First Reading

The bylaw ‘Prohibited Business Bylaw’ received its first reading at the February 17 Regular Meeting of Council. You can read the draft of the bylaw here

The bylaw will return to Council on March 17 for discussion. Your feedback is important. You are welcome to share feedback in the survey.

An in-person feedback session is also available. To register for the March 17 in-person session please email your name and mailing address to MediaAdmin@Strathmore.ca. The feedback session will take place in the evening of March 17, but the start time will depend on the number of participants. 

In order to protect against the spread of COVID-19 the following guidelines must be followed during the in-person session:

  • Upon registration you will receive a confirmation of your speaking order at the in-person session. All registrants must arrive at the Strathmore Municipal Building at least 15 minutes prior to their assigned speaking time. 
  • Each registrant must complete a COVID-19 pre-screening prior to being admitted to Council Chambers. As well, all registrants must wear a face mask during their appearance before Council. If you do not have a face mask one will be provided. If you cannot wear a face mask you can provide written feedback here:
  • Registrants will be admitted to Council Chambers one at a time. A registrant will enter the Chambers, address Council, be provided an opportunity to answer questions from Council, then will leave the Chambers for the next registrant to speak. This in-person session will be live broadcast. An in-person audience for the session will not be available.
  • Registrations must be received by March 12, 4:30pm. Email your name and mailing address to MediaAdmin@Strathmore.ca 

Why is conversion therapy an issue?

A prohibited business ban on conversion therapy in Strathmore offers protection for marginalized and vulnerable people in our community and demonstrates our community’s efforts to be a Town that welcomes and respects everyone.

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited in Canada and around the world. Ethical and professional guidelines of major medical and mental health organizations caution their members against the practice, and a growing number of countries, states, provinces, and municipalities have enacted a variety of bans prohibiting these harmful practices.

As is the case with all of our bylaws, careful study and preparation will be required to ensure all concerns are considered during the creation of any potential conversion therapy prohibition bylaw for Strathmore.

What is conversion therapy?

Small differences in definitions can have a large impact on the bylaw. The Town of Strathmore works to draft bylaws that are plainly written and not difficult to understand. A clear definition helps achieve this goal.

The Government of Canada has recently tabled a bill to criminalize conversion therapy. Bill C-8 provides a sample definition that we’ll compare with other municipal definitions when creating the Town of Strathmore’s draft bylaw. We will also carefully consider any legal and Charter considerations during our review process.

Government of Canada Bill C-8 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)

Definition of conversion therapy

320.‍101 In sections 320.‍102 to 320.‍106, conversion therapy means a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates

(a) to a person’s gender transition; or

(b) to a person’s exploration of their identity or to its development.

City of Calgary Prohibited Business Bylaw

“Conversion therapy” means a practice, treatment, or service designed to change, repress, or discourage a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment, or service that relates (a) to a person’s social, medical, or legal gender transition; or (b) to a person’s non-judgmental exploration and acceptance of their identity or development

City of Edmonton Prohibited Businesses Bylaw

The offering or provision of counselling or behaviour modification techniques, administration or prescription of medication, or any other purported treatment, service, or tactic used for the objective of changing a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or gender preference, or eliminating or reducing sexual attraction or sexual behaviour between persons of the same sex, not including (a) services that provide acceptance, support, or understanding of a person or that facilitate a person's coping, social support, or identity exploration or development, or (b) gender-affirming surgery or any service related to gender affirming surgery.

City of Lethbridge Bylaw to prohibit the offering of conversion therapy services

No person may engage in or operate a business that provides the offering or provision of counselling or behaviour modification techniques, administration or prescription of medication, or any other purported treatment, service, or tactic used for the objective of changing a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or gender preference, or eliminating or reducing sexual attraction or sexual behavior between persons of the same sex, not including:

    1. Services that provide acceptance, support, or understanding of a person or that facilitate a person’s coping, social support, or identity exploration or development, or
    2. Gender-affirming surgery or any service related to gender-affirming surgery.

What actions have other cities and towns taken?

Vancouver was the first Canadian municipality to prevent businesses from offering conversion therapy when it passed a bylaw in June 2018. Since then several other Canadian municipalities have passed similar legislation. An interactive map from the organization No Conversion Canada is available that shows the status of legislation across the country. 

These bans reflect the growing body of scientific evidence that highlights the potential harm of conversion therapy. Both the Canadian Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association have released position papers opposing conversion therapy. Many other national and international organizations have provided additional research and position papers opposing or discrediting conversion therapy.

The City of Lethbridge is the most recent municipality to pass such legislation in our province, joining several communities in Alberta with conversion therapy bylaws. Examining these existing bylaws will help guide the process for a similar bylaw in Strathmore. 

What's next?

The bylaw has passed first reading and will return to Council on March 17. 

Take the survey and leave your feedback: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZTZFZ6W 

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