On Tuesday, Kingston City Council voted unanimously to pursue bylaws that would prohibit conversion therapy across all age groups. This would make Kingston one of Canada’s first municipalities to ban the practice of conversion therapy at a local level and the first in Ontario.
The amended motion directs staff to draft bylaws and and establish fines for organizations offering conversion therapy. “That council direct staff to draft the necessary bylaws to prohibit the practice of the conversion therapy across all age groups, including a fine for those offering conversion therapy services within Kingston, and return them to council no later than quarter 3, 2021,” the motion read.
While the Kingston City Council initially sought to propose that the city support the proposed federal bill to ban conversion therapy, survivors of conversion therapy urged the council, and Mayor Bryan Paterson in particular, to take a stand.
“I see this motion as a chance for council, and also for me, to take a stand against something that is wrong, but also make a stand on something that is right [and] in this case, an inclusive community,” Ben Rodgers, a survivor of conversion therapy told council.
Rodgers was among several ex-members of Third Day Worship Centre who alleged that Mayor Bryan Paterson participated in conversion therapy practices while pastor at the church. Rodgers spoke to YGK News about alleged abuse during their time studying and worshiping at the church.
Conservative MP Derek Sloan also made an attempt to speak on the council motion but was denied by the council. The MP voted against Bill C-6 in October, and said “The LGBT community has many different members in it and they do not all have the same opinion.” The CPC caucus has repeatedly said that bill C-6 is “overly broad.”
The city will now explore ways that the municipality can complement the federal bill which would criminalize conversion therapy. In particular, the council will be seeking ways to prevent the distribution of funding to organizations that practice conversion therapy. A support system will also be put in place to support survivors of conversion therapy.
View Tuesday’s City Council Meeting here: