Calgary bans conversion therapy

(Photo: Unsplash/Cecilie Johnsen)

The Canadian city of Calgary has banned so-called conversion therapy "to protect" its residents. 

A bylaw passed overwhelming by the city council this week prohibits businesses from providing counselling services for people with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. 

"With this, the City of Calgary initiates new regulations to protect Calgarians, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, to continue to be a city that is welcoming for all, committed to supporting equality and human rights," the city said in a statement.

The new bylaw was passed 14 votes to 1 at a meeting of the city council on Monday and applies only to local businesses. 

In the wording of the bylaw, conversion therapy is defined as 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". 

Violators face a fine of up to $10,000 or a year in prison.

Anne Paul, head of the Restored Hope Network, a US-based ministry providing support for people with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, said the bylaw effectively banned "belief and compassionate care". 

"It is not loving to ban belief and compassionate care for those who have unwanted same-sex attraction or unwanted gender dysphoria," she told The Christian Post.

"Those who seek support should be able to find it. And yet, banning belief and compassionate care is exactly what recently happened in Calgary, Canada.

"The government does not seem to care that some want to be gay or trans and others do not. The others be condemned."

She is sceptical about assurances that the bylaw will not affect the right of pastors to air traditional views on sexuality and gender identity. 

"The state is determining what is acceptable practice for the Church in Canada and wielding dangerous power at this time," she said.

"As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' 'The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.'"