Edmonton

Notley defends conversion therapy working group at Edmonton Pride festivities

Opposition leader Rachel Notley and members of the NDP caucus gathered at 103th Street in downtown Edmonton alongside hundreds of other people celebrating Pride at a street festival Saturday.

'They will make recommendations to this government and then we will push them'

Oppostion leader Rachel Notley is joined by members of the NDP caucus at the Edmonton Pride street festival in downtown Edmonton. (Manuel Carrillos/CBC)

A day after releasing a letter from Health Minister Tyler Shandro, the Official Opposition say they will keep fighting against conversion therapy in Alberta.

In a letter sent to NDP MLA Nicole Goehring on Friday, Shandro said the mandate of a working group tasked with studying a possible ban on conversion therapy had lapsed with the end of NDP government in April.

Opposition leader Rachel Notley and members of the NDP caucus gathered at 103th Street in downtown Edmonton alongside hundreds of other people celebrating Pride at a street festival Saturday.

Notley said she was disappointed by the United Conservative Party's lack of commitment to the working group that was formed to study a possible ban on the discredited practice, which tries to change people's sexual orientation, gender identity or expression through counselling or religious teaching.

Notley said the NDP would take the information the working group gathered back to the legislature. 

"We'll continue to do that work," Notley said. "They will make recommendations to this government and then we will push them. We will push them to move forward on it and we will see what happens."

Notley encouraged the crowd gathered at the festival to continue the fight for equality.

"It's not a linear progression," Notley said. "You go forward two steps and back one. It's possible that we're in the middle of a back one right now and we need to push forward the next ten steps."

Notley noted the absence of UCP caucus members from Saturday's festivities. 

"If I were them I would struggle to be at an event like this because it would be so profoundly hypocritical," Notley said.

UCP spokesperson Christine Myatt confirmed Premier Jason Kenney was unable to attend.

Free Mom Hugs

Patricia Zentilli brought her friends and young son to Pride to show their support for the LGBTQ2S community.

"I decided we were going to give out free mom hugs to some people that needed a hug or didn't have parents that gave them hugs and didn't accept them," Zentilli said. "So, I'm just here to spread the love."

Patricia Zentilli attended the Edmonton Pride Street Festival to offer free Mom hugs. (Manuel Carrillos/CBC)

Zentilli said she hoped her son would grow up to be an ally.

"It's important that my son believes that love is love," Zentilli said. "And that you can dress however you want and be whoever you feel that you want to be. It's important for me to share this event with him."

The Edmonton Pride Festival events run through the month of June.

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