CALGARY, Alberta, May 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A Canadian city banned businesses from offering help to those with unwanted same-sex attraction.
In a 14-1 final vote yesterday, the Calgary City Council passed the third reading of the “Prohibited Businesses Bylaw-20M2020” (page 531), making it become law.
The new bylaw 20M2020 makes it illegal for a business to offer help to those with unwanted same-sex attraction. The bylaw comes with fines of up to $10,000 or a year-long prison term for those found to violate the law. It also bans the advertising of so-called “conversion therapy” services.
Marty Moore, a lawyer for the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), told LifeSiteNews that bylaw 20M2020 constitutes a violation of one’s freedom and conscience rights.
“Calgary’s bylaw violates individuals’ Charter rights and freedoms, including their liberty to choose the kinds of supports they want concerning their own sexuality and gender,” said Moore to LifeSiteNews.
Moore added that the bylaw also violates the ability of parents and health professionals to provide treatments in the best interest of their kids — in “particular[,] children experiencing distress concerning their gender” — and “the ability of religious communities to provide support to their LGBTQ members who choose to follow traditional beliefs about sexuality and gender.”
The final version of the bylaw came about after a two-day public hearing of “The Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services,” held from May 13 to 14. The committee unanimously gave their approval of the “conversion therapy” ban bylaw after the hearing, which featured 121 speakers and 1,800 submissions on the subject.
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The passage of the bylaw came with the full support of Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, who said on Twitter Monday he is “proud” of his council’s support.
“I’m so proud of my Council colleagues for supporting the ban on this insidious practice. When it comes to showing courage on human rights issues, Calgary has shown its stripes,” said Nenshi.
In February, Calgary councilor Evan Woolley said the city would go after those who offer “conversion therapy,” saying, “We will bring teeth” and adding, “If you are practicing this in our city, we will come at you with everything that we’ve got.”
Despite a May 20 City of Calgary memo clarifying that the law would apply only to businesses and not to religious institutions or teachers, Moore told LifeSiteNews the wording of the term “conversion therapy” is broader than any definition that would be used by a “professional body.”
“The Calgary bylaw goes far beyond banning coercive and abusive practices commonly associated with the term ‘conversion therapy,” said Moore.
“The definition of ‘conversion therapy’ is broader than any definition utilized by professional bodies, in that it not only bans practices, therapies or service to change individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity, it also bans services to help ‘reduce non-heterosexual … sexual behaviour.’”
In May, the JCCF warned that Calgary’s new “conversion therapy” bylaw would violate one’s constitutional rights if passed.
In advance of the May committee meeting, the JCCF submitted a paper to the City Council titled “An Overbroad and Arbitrary Violation of Calgarians’ Individual Liberties.” The group also submitted a response to the May 20 City Council memo, giving their take on the official city responses to the bylaw.
Moore was present for a large portion of the May 13–14 committee meeting. He gave an oral presentation on May 13 regarding the bylaw to voice the concerns of the JCCF.
“The claim that this bylaw only applies to ‘business’ is misleading because the definition of ‘business’ utilized by the bylaw is so broad that it includes even not-for-profit associations of persons,” said Moore to LifeSiteNews.
“Churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues, and temples, as well as other religious organizations and charities, are thus captured within the definition of ‘business’ as well as anyone employed in ‘a profession, trade, occupation, calling or employment’. Thus, this bylaw will censor the conversations an enormous range of organizations and individuals are permitted to have with others who are wanting to talk about their sexuality and gender.”
Calgary’s “conversion therapy” ban bylaw came about after a council committee passed a motion titled “Banning Conversion Therapy” back in February.
The motion was first brought to Calgary City Council in mid-January, when the Council’s Priorities and Finance Committee unanimously voted in favor of proceeding with the motion.
The wording of the definition of a “conversion therapy” business that is prohibited in Calgary’s bylaw, and as passed on Monday in “Schedule A,” reads:
“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
The city’s “Prohibited Businesses Bylaw,” which 20M2020 falls under, states, “A person must not engage in or operate a business listed in Schedule A.”
Moore told LifeSiteNews that Calgary city councilors “seemed to be particularly happy” that under this new bylaw, only “non-judgmental” conversations are permitted.
“The bylaw’s direct and highly subjective censorship of voluntary conversations may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, particularly against those who hold and express traditional beliefs about sexuality and gender,” said Moore.
In their paper submitted to the Calgary City Council, the JCCF warned that the Calgary city government does not have the authority to enact these types of bans.
“The City of Calgary does not have jurisdiction to enact bans for the purpose of expressing moral
condemnation of certain activities: that power is within the exclusive criminal law jurisdiction of the federal government,” says the JCCF paper.
“While the City of Calgary can regulate businesses, an outright prohibition is ultra vires, beyond the powers of the City of Calgary.”
At the federal level, there are now two pieces of legislation that if passed would criminalize so-called “conversion therapy” nationwide. The first is Bill S-202, now before the Senate.
Bill C-8, now before the House of Commons, is farther-reaching than Bill S-202. It will make it a criminal offense in Canada t: 1) cause a minor to undergo conversion therapy, 2) remove a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy, 3) cause a person to undergo conversion therapy against his will, 4) profit from conversion therapy, and 5) advertise conversion therapy.
The lone councilor to vote against the Calgary bylaw was Joe Magliocca. According to a Calgary Herald article, Magliocca said he “supported banning conversion therapy.” He decided to vote against the bylaw after a proposed amendment by him, to make Calgary’s bylaw more in line with the federal government’s wording, was voted down.
Calgary’s bylaw follows the lead of similar bylaws banning “conversion therapy” by the City of Edmonton back in December of 2019. As LifeSiteNews reported, Edmonton’s bylaw threatened a “minimum” fine of $10,000 a day for any business that practices conversion therapy.