Public apology demanded from Kelowna MP Tracy Gray for her stand on conversion therapy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Public apology demanded from Kelowna MP Tracy Gray for her stand on conversion therapy

Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Tracy Gray after winning her party's nomination in April 2019.
July 26, 2021 - 9:49 AM

Deeds speak louder than words.

That’s the gist of a letter sent to Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Tracy Gray today, July 26, demanding she apologize for voting against a bill that outlawed conversion therapy.

That vote happened in June and Gray argued, at the time, that her past record of support for the LGBTQ community spoke for itself. She said that included voting in favour of a rainbow crosswalk when she was a Kelowna city councillor and walking in Gay Pride parades.

READ MORE: Kelowna's Tracy Gray only MP in region to vote against ban on conversion therapy

“While support for rainbow crosswalks are gestures that are appreciated, such performative acts ring hollow when a real issue causing explicit and significant harm to our community is unable to garner similar support from you,” states the three-page letter from “a coalition of Kelowna-Lake Country 2S-LGBTQIA+ Citizens and allies.”

The bill passed by a vote of 163-63 with Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole and other Thompson and Okanagan Conservative MPs all voting in favour.

The letter explains that conversion therapy is a harmful effort to change people’s sexual orientation to being straight “based on the outdated and incorrect assumption that being 2S-LGBTQIA+ is a mental illness that can be cured.”

It cites studies saying 10 per cent of their community has experienced conversion practices and 72 per cent of those started conversion therapy before the age of 20.

It also argues that more than 8,000 of Gray’s constituents identify as 2S-LGBTQIA+, based on a recent Statistics Canada release that four per cent of Canadians identify as being part of that community.

It cites another study saying youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide in the past year. They also experience “shame, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, loss of faith, decreased self-esteem, increased self-hatred, social withdrawal, feeling dehumanized, depression, increased substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviours.”

The letter chastises Gray for not consulting their community before voting on the conversion therapy bill.

Gray also defended her actions by saying the wording in the bill was ambiguous when it came to the rights of parents to talk to their children about their sexual orientation. The coalition debunks that argument as well.

“It has not gone unnoticed that your talking points precisely mimic those from the right-wing religious opposition to the bill without any real substance or data to back them up,” the letter states. “Your support of this lobbying group, at the cost of protections against the horrific harms of conversion therapy is both shocking and hurtful.

“It sends a clear message to the youth in our community that you support their continued victimization by these medically and scientifically debunked practices and practitioners, and to the community at large that you are not interested in working to protect our most vulnerable.”

The letter was written following a June 12 town hall meeting that was live-streamed by Kelowna Pride where many called for Gray’s resignation. But, the louder cries were for a public apology, the letter says.

“We ask that you apologize for overlooking our community input, for voting against our legal protections, for violating our trust in you, and for ignoring the impacts and trauma your vote has caused,” the letter says.

Gray did not respond to an email request for comment from by publication time.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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