Calgary warned that proposed “conversion therapy” ban violates constitutional rights


CALGARY: The Justice Centre will be appearing before Calgary City Council on May 13. 2020, with a Justice Centre lawyer providing a warning that a proposed city bylaw seeking to ban very broadly-defined “conversion therapy” violates constitutional rights.

The proposed bylaw defines “conversion therapy” as:

“Conversion therapy” means a practice, treatment, or service designed to change, repress, or discourage a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment, or service that relates:

(a) to a person’s social, medical, or legal gender transition; or
(b) to a person’s non-judgmental exploration and acceptance of their identity or development

This definition is so broad and all-encompassing that the bylaw, if passed in its present form, would prohibit all kinds of services that individual Calgarians want and need, and would interfere with the personal choices that adults make about their sexuality and gender identity.

As explained in the Justice Centre’s written submissions to City Council, Calgary’s proposed bylaw, if implemented, would ban the following:

An individual voluntarily receiving counselling support to treat a sexual addiction (if it involves same-sex sexual behaviour);
A faith-based support group assisting people in addressing sexual and gender identity issues which also encourages adherence to traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender;
Medical and psychological support for individuals seeking to de-transition to their natal gender;
Counseling offered to help a child below the age of consent to stop engaging in same-sex sexual activity; and
A therapy designed to help a child with gender dysphoria regain comfort with her or his natal gender

Calgary’s proposed bylaw would punish “conversion therapy” with a fine of $10,000 and if not paid, one year imprisonment.

Calgary City Council’s Standing Committee on Community and Protective Services will be conducting a meeting, starting at 9:30 a.m., on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. The meeting will be live streamed at The meeting agenda and hundreds pages of submissions recently received by City Council on this issue can be found at

The move by the City of Calgary to ban “conversion therapy” follows moves by several other municipalities, including the City of Edmonton, to ban conversion therapy.

The Justice Centre has published a paper discussing these bans, their overly wide-ranging definition of “conversion therapy” and how they interfere with Canadians’ liberty.

The federal government has also recently proposed Bill C-8 which would add several “conversion therapy” offences to the Criminal Code. The Justice Centre has published a paper outlining the numerous constitutional violations present in Bill C-8 deriving from its overbroad definition of “conversion therapy”, including its interference with health care professionals’ discretion in treating children with gender dysphoria, and severe restrictions on individuals’ personal choices concerning their gender and sexuality.