Regina city council sends conversion therapy ban bylaw to third reading

Regina city council has sent a bylaw to ban conversion therapy to a third reading next month.

“This is just one of those things we can do to express our support and signal that we are looking to be more inclusive," Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said.

Council debated the bylaw in a meeting that lasted close to seven hours on Wednesday afternoon. Nearly 30 delegates presented to council on the issue.

The unamended bylaw passed the second reading 9-1, with Ward 10 councillor Landon Mohl voting against it.

Mohl had put forward an amendment to add a previously removed exemption back into the bylaw that would allow therapy for “Repressing or reducing sexual attraction or behaviour for any purpose unrelated to a desire to be heterosexual, including for the purpose of managing sexual addiction or maintaining celibacy.”

Earlier in the meeting, Ward 4 councillor Lori Bresciani also called for the exemption to be added back to no avail.

Mohl said without the exemption, the bylaw “bans counseling for LGBTQ+ people who may want to change their behaviours or attractions.”

“No one, for example, would accuse a straight person of trying to change her orientation merely for wanting to reduce her unwanted sexual behaviour,” Mohl wrote in a Facebook post explaining his decision. “Yet if this by-law passes as is, only straight people could get this kind of counseling.”

Ward 2 councillor Bob Hawkins spoke out against the amendment, saying it is critical to pass the bylaw as is and live up to the trust given to council by the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Ward 8 councillor Shanon Zachidniak said the amendment could be a loophole to allow conversion therapy practices to continue under different names, while Ward 6 councillor Dan LeBlanc said the amendment watered down the bylaw. Mohl’s amendment was defeated.

The bylaw to ban conversion therapy required unanimous support to pass Wednesday night.

Mohl said he won’t support the bylaw based on the definition of conversion therapy used, but he agreed a ban should be in place.

The third reading was pushed to the next council meeting on Aug. 11.

"It just essentially puts a little bit of a pause on it, but at next meeting there's no vote on it, even if there is if it's not unanimous it doesn't matter. Final reading, it will be passed," Masters said.