Regina councillor apologizes for raising pedophilia during conversion therapy ban discussion
'I acknowledge that the comment came in the wrong way and I accept that': Coun. Terina Shaw
A Regina city councillor is apologizing for comments she made during a city meeting where a committee ultimately recommended looking at a potential ban on conversion therapy.
The community wellness committee met on April 19 as a continuation of a meeting from April 14. Ten delegations spoke in favour of and against the federal Bill C-6 — which bans conversion therapy — and a potential similar local ban.
During an exchange with one delegation, Coun. Terina Shaw asked about behavioural therapy. She asked if, under Bill C-6, an older man attracted to a young boy could still get help.
Coun. Andrew Stevens, chair of the committee, stopped the conversation, saying Shaw was close to comparing pedophilia and child abuse to homosexuality and that she'd be out of order if she did so.
Shaw spoke to CBC after the committee meeting. Asked if she was comparing the two, Shaw said "absolutely not."
"I would like to apologize ... I did not mean any harm," Shaw said. "I acknowledge that the comment came in the wrong way and I accept that. And I apologize for that and say that was not my intent."
"Just if you ban all behavior therapy, you're banning everything. And that's what I'm worried about."
Shaw said her concern is that a local bylaw would be treading on thin ice when it comes to human rights.
She said she is against conversion therapy, "but to not allow a person who is struggling with their sexual orientation, who is struggling with their sexual preference and who does not want to have that sexual preference, to not be able to get counselling is absolutely ludicrous."
Shaw said making it illegal to seek behavioural help is too broad and that she hopes the local bylaw will address that with very specific wording.
Shaw said people with unwanted sexual desires of the same-sex or opposite sex should be allowed to seek counselling.
Committee votes 4-1 to look at a local conversion therapy ban
The committee voted 4-1 for city administration to study the feasibility of a local ban on conversion therapy. Councillors Dan LeBlanc, Shaw, Stevens and Cheryl Stadnichuk voted in favour. Only Councillor John Findura was against.
LeBlanc proposed the amendment asking for the city to look at a local ban. His amendment also stated that all young persons and adults should have the right to their identity, regardless of their birth identity or gender, and that the city would join the Canadian Psychiatric Society against conversion therapy.
"It doesn't go far enough for us. It's not appropriate for us to say that some other level of government should take steps to make Regina a safe space for LGBTQ+ folks, rather city council is also responsible for this work," LeBlanc said.
Stadnichuk also spoke in favour. She said giving administration time to develop a bylaw is good and they'd be able to study the 16 municipalities who have done this already. Stadnichuk said there are a lot of misconceptions around a ban, such as that it would limit human rights.
"I feel the people who are opposed to the bill are sowing doubt in people's minds when I believe there's a lot of expertise and a lot of information given to us that those concerns are not as valid," Stadnichuk said.
Findura said he cannot support the government telling people what to do and disagrees with the definition of conversion therapy being used by the federal government.
"I believe we are totally rushing this," Findura said during the debate.
The committee also voted 3-2 to have Mayor Sandra Masters write a letter in favour of Bill C-6. These two recommendations will go before city council for final approval.