Working group will look at how to ban conversion therapy in Alberta

The working group will meet over the next five months to come up with ways to ban the discredited practice in Alberta.

Liberal leader calls on government to ban practice immediately

NDP MLA Nicole Goehring is the co-chair of a new working group looking to ban conversion therapy in Alberta. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

A working group co-chaired by NDP MLA Nicole Goehring will look at ways to ban conversion therapy in Alberta.

The working group will meet over the next five months to develop ways to ban the practice in the province, the Alberta government said Friday in a news release. Recommendations will then be made to the minister of health.

Goehring, the MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs, had been working on a private member's bill to ban the discredited practice, which tries to change people's sexual orientation, gender identity or expression through counselling or religious practices.

She is co-chairing the group with Glynnis Lieb, executive director of the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta.

The group includes an Anglican archdeacon, the executive director of the Edmonton Pride Centre, a theologian and a survivor of conversion therapy.

The current NDP government said it is committed to banning conversion therapy.

The group's deadline goes beyond the end of May, the latest date when Albertans are expected to go to the polls. It's not clear what would happen with the group's recommendations if there is a change in government.

Liberals say ban needed now

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan called on the government to stop delaying and ban conversion therapy right away. 

"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," Khan said in a statement. "What further input is needed to convince this government? We must act now.

"This ban absolutely must be implemented before the next election. The NDP government committee proposal is a sham designed to string along stakeholders and concerned Albertans."

Khan said his party has been calling for a ban since 2016. He said the Alberta Liberals will propose banning conversion therapy if they are given a chance to introduce a private member's bill in the spring session.