'It does so much harm': Saskatoon church wants city to ban conversion therapy
SASKATOON -- A local church wants the City of Saskatoon to ban the practice of conversion therapy.
In a letter to the Governance and Priorities Committee, the Grosvenor Park United Church says conversion therapy is “abhorrent” and calls its consequences “devastating.”
Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity often through religious counselling.
The letter also refers to statistics saying one third of men who have undergone conversion therapy have attempted suicide.
Fran Forsberg, who is a member of the church, has adopted eight children, two of whom are transgender.
"It does so much harm to people and I wonder how many kids and people we're losing to suicide and self-harm because of this activity. Also, conversion therapy is saying that it's wrong and that it's an illness, well it's been proven by the Pediatric Society of Canada and 49 other different health organizations that that's not the case,” she said.
The church also wants the city to press the provincial and federal governments to ban the practice.
Last year, the federal government urged provinces and territories to ban conversion therapy. According to letters sent to provincial and territorial ministers of health and justice across the country, the federal government says it is also considering legislation.
However, Grosvenor Park United Church says the city must act sooner as the practice remains legal in several jurisdictions across Canada.
“It is therefore critical for this legislature to meet it’s intended objective of protecting vulnerable members of our community.”
Rachel Loewen Walker, executive director of OUTSaskatoon, said the centre supports Grosvenor Park United’s call for an anti-conversion therapy bylaw in Saskatoon.
“The painful and detrimental effects of this practice cannot be overstated and it’s time that our city leads the way in supporting not only a municipal but a provincial ban,” she said in an email to CTV News.
Last summer, city councillors in St. Albert, Alberta voted to ban conversion therapy. The ban includes a $10,000 fine on anyone advertising or performing the therapy on minors within the city.
The next governance and priorities meeting is on Tuesday at City Hall.
With files from Nicole Di Donato