Province moves to ban conversion therapy in Alberta
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Province moves to ban conversion therapy in Alberta

Last Updated Feb 8, 2019 at 5:21 pm MDT

The Alberta Legislature is shown in Edmonton, Alta., on March 28, 2014. The case of a former Alberta politician accused of sex charges involving a minor is scheduled to be in Red Deer, Alta., court today. Don MacIntyre, who is 63, resigned in February of last year after he was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference. He had represented the central Alberta seat of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake for the United Conservative Party. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The provincial government is striking up a Conversion Therapy Working Group to look at banning the practice in Alberta.

The group's co-chair Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Nicole Goehring had tried to pass a private member's bill last session.

Meetings will be held regularly over the next five months to engage with stakeholders.

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — The Alberta NDP are moving ahead on a promise to ban conversion therapy.

On Friday they had announced they formed a working group to come up with the most effective way to ban the practice of converting homosexuals or bisexuals to heterosexuality.

It’ll be co-chaired by Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Nicole Goehring and advocate Glynnis Lieb. They plan to meet regularly over the next five months while engaging with stakeholders.

The goal will then be to come up with a list of recommendations for Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman.

“At this point we’re bringing together a diverse group of people,” said Goehring. “We’re going to plan on how this group works forward, ultimately at the end of the day we are 100 per cent committed to banning conversion therapy and how that works will be up to the working group.”

Goehring couldn’t commit to a timeline and said that they are trying to get the group up and running first.

The Edmonton-based politician had tried to pass a private members’ bill last session which was met by court challenges from faith-based groups.

“It came to me from communities saying that this was something that was important to be banned in the province,” she said. “When it comes to people coming forward about this, it’s traumatic, there is a lot of fear and concern.”

It’s unclear if they will be able to accomplish anything ahead of the spring election. Goehring says they need to get the language right and is hopeful there will be support from other parties across the aisle.

“Ultimately I would hope that this is about protecting vulnerable Albertans and I would hope that all Albertans in the legislature would support this life-saving work,” she said. “We know conversion therapy is damaging and hurtful and there is no place for it in Alberta.”

The working group is already being condemned by the Alberta Liberals which want an immediate ban on the practice ahead of the spring vote.

“We will not support the NDP government’s proposal to study the issue until July 2019,” leader David Khan said in a news release. “Alberta Liberals condemn the delay by the NDP government. Alberta’s youth cannot wait another five months for an NDP committee to reach the conclusion that is obvious to most people in this province.”