On Monday, the Regina community wellness committee voted in favour of a motion recommending the city offer to its support for Bill C-6 – a federal bill that would ban conversion therapy.
The decision was made after two days of listening to about two dozen delegates expressing their concerns.
For advocates, it was a day to remember.
“These actions are really about protecting the safety, the equality, the dignity of residents in Regina and Canadians at large. This is a big day and I’m very proud to see this action,” said Nicholas Schiavo, No Conversion Canada founder.
Bill C-6, which has passed its second reading, aims to criminalize the practice that it defines as “to seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviours, or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth.”
Some delegates and councillors felt the bill’s wording would limit counselling options for the LGBTQ2S+ community.
During the heated debate Ward 7 councillor Terina Shaw was cut off by committee chair, Ward 3 councillor Andrew Stevens, after asking one delegate if an older man attracted to a young boy could still get help.
Shaw explained herself in a statement emailed to media outlets Monday.
“I want to offer my deepest apologies to the LGBTQ+ community for my comments at City Council regarding conversion therapy,” Shaw said.
“As a long-time human rights advocate, I sympathize with the struggles and oppression that members of this community face every day, and I am deeply ashamed that I have inadvertently contributed to that.
“I fell down a rabbit hole of over-analyzing the minutiae of the legal wording of the bill and the City resolution.
“I now recognize that this was irrelevant and inappropriate. What matters, and all that matters, is that forced conversion therapy is an abhorrent form of torture and brainwashing that has no place in Canadian society.”
The committee also passed an amendment for the city to look into a municipal ban on conversion therapy, something that’s been implemented in more than a dozen municipalities across Canada.
“There’s a consensus that using force and different kinds of violence to advance conversion therapy unanimously recognized as offensive, but it’s still taking place,” Stevens said.
Regina city council is now expected to vote on the motion on April 28.