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VIDEO: LGBTQ+ advocate clashes with city over conversion therapy

It's Pride Week and there is a lot to celebrate.

But Wilbur Turner said there is still plenty of work to do.

He's the founder of Advocacy Canada and looks out for the rights of the LGBTQ2+ community.

"A really good example of that is our focus on having conversion therapy banned," he said.

According to Turner, 18 Canadian municipalities have enacted bylaws against the practice of conversion therapy, but his early attempts to have something like that in Kelowna have been unsuccessful.

"This is a criminal matter," said Mayor Colin Basran in a letter to Turner, "the federal government is the one with the power to enact and enforce a law to actually abolish this practice."

Conversion therapy is the term used to describe programs or "treatments" aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation.

Bill C-6, the legislation looking to largely ban conversion therapy was halted in the Senate after Conservatives refused to fast track their review.

It was shelved after the election recent call.

<who>Photo credit: KelownaNow </who>

But Turner is undeterred. "We're asking the councillors to step up and pass a motion to request that their administration do more research on this," he said, "and look at what powers they do have."

The Mayor did send a letter to the Prime Minister on the issue in support of federal legislation introduced last year to ban the practice.

<who>Photo credit: Contributed </who>

"I am hopeful that it will be reintroduced when the 44th Parliament convenes," wrote Basran.

"We stand clearly against harm to residents based on their gender, and sexual identity, or their expression," he wrote, "and that includes the practice of conversion therapy."

But that's not enough argues Turner.

He said the city needs to at least give full consideration to a bylaw.

"We need our councils to be courageous and to step up and do things that are going to send a really strong message that conversion therapy is not acceptable and it's not permitted in our city."

He said it's not an obscure problem in some far-away place.

"I've talked to people with first-hand stories of this impacting their lives here in Kelowna," he said, adding that we don't often year about it because it all happens quietly.

"There's a lot of young people that are put through this because their parents are ashamed."

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