FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – North Peace Pride Society executive director Lyle Goldie is “elated” after Members of Parliament unanimously voted in favour of Bill C-4, an act banning LGBT+ conversion therapy, last week.

“It’s been a long road to finally get that approved. It’s very exciting to see that not only what it has passed, but unanimously passed. I’d like to thank [MP] Bob Zimmer for being a part of that,” said Goldie.

Goldie has tried to sit down and chat with Zimmer on a couple of occasions, but unfortunately, scheduling made that difficult on both sides. Goldie is still open to having a conversation with the local politician, however, he understands not everyone in the LGBTQ+ community is ready for that.

“I definitely don’t think he’s a bad person or anything,” said Goldie. “Maybe things will start to turn. I know [Conservative leader] Erin O’Toole is really trying hard to appeal to the LGBTQ+ community. So let’s see, we’ll see, maybe this starts something, but I don’t expect it to.”

Although he doesn’t expect him to be carrying a rainbow flag and participate in the Pride walk anytime soon, Goldie says Zimmer is more than welcome to join.

If that was the case, Goldie expects a few heated conversations to take place between the MP and residents, but he believes it’s needed.

“Maybe this vote is really that olive branch, maybe just reaching a hand out to the LGBTQ+ community from the Conservative Party.”

In October 2020, Zimmer voted against the bill during its second reading, saying in a statement, “make no mistake, I am opposed to the practice of conversion therapy.” He was one of only seven MP’s at the time to vote against the bill and said it was due to the wording.

After the third reading of the bill on June 22nd, the Society board said it was ‘discouraged’ by the 63 MPs who voted against the bill, including Zimmer. The board said they consider this method “to be tantamount to torture” and are disappointed Zimmer didn’t engage with the group before his vote.

Conversion therapy refers to several practices aiming to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Conversion therapy can be performed by licensed professionals, unlicensed ministries, or life coaches; it can be done one-on-one in an office or in groups at retreats or conferences, and it can be done for money or for free. Faith-based conversion therapy can be found across a wide range of religious traditions; faith communities have also played an important and growing role in protecting LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy,” according to the Trevor Project, a United States-based organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+.

Energeticcity reached out to Zimmer and didn’t receive a response at the time this article was published.