Vancouver MLA calls for removal of Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness from B.C. Liberal caucus due to anti-LGBT views

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      Update (July 17):

      The Vancouver Pride Society informed the B.C. Liberals that they won't be allowed to participate in this year's Vancouver Pride parade (to be held online) if no action is taken against MLA Laurie Throness for his anti-LGBT stance.

      Original article (July 15):

      An NDP MLA from Vancouver is calling for a Liberal MLA to be removed from the B.C Liberal caucus due to concerns about LGBT issues.

      Today (July 15), West End–Coal Harbour MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert sent a letter to B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, which he also posted online.

      Chandra Herbert, who is openly gay and advocates for LGBT rights, referred to a report by Press Progress on June 30 that revealed that B.C. Liberals spent over $1,700 on advertisements in the Christian publication The Light Magazine, which has published anti–LGBT perspectives.

      He noted how Wilkinson issued a statement on June 30, in response to the news, in which he said that “there is no room in the B.C. Liberal Party for homophobia, transphobia, or any other form of discrimination”.

      Yet while some B.C. Liberal MLAs apologized for these ads, others did not. MLA Marvin Hunt’s advertisements appeared in the July issue of the magazine but were later removed.

      In addition, Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness, the B.C. Liberal critic for the Ministry of Children and Families, told CTV News on July 3 that he would continue to advertise in the publication because it reflects his own values and to reach his constituents.

      He also defended an article in the magazine that raised concerns about a bill proposing a ban on conversion therapy, which has been deemed a discredited, pseudoscientific, and potentially traumatic attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation. In June 2018, Vancouver became the first Canadian city to ban conversion therapy and Canada has tabled legislation to prohibit it as well. 

      “Sit with that for a second,” Chandra Herbert stated in his letter to Wilkinson. “the MLA you’ve put in charge of child care and supporting vulnerable children believes there is a place for conversion therapy.”

      Chandra Herbert also listed Throness’ previous anti-LGBT stances, including not supporting the addition of gender identity or expression in the B.C. Human Rights Code; criticizing B.C.’s LGBT school resource SOGI 123; and defending Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld, who has a history of expressing controversial anti-LGBT views.

      When B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming was asked about the B.C. Liberal advertisements in The Light Magazine, he stated on July 9 that it is a concern to him.

      “We started the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [SOGI] initiative some years ago and have continued that partnership knowing that LGBTQ students are vulnerable to bullying, are vulnerable to mental-health issues, are vulnerable to dropping out of school, and that we had to get the entire school system to be a safe and welcoming place for all students,” he said. “And this magazine seems to promote an agenda that that needs to be attacked and by using tax dollars from MLAs’ constituency offices. It’s reprehensible in my view.”

      Chandra Herbert stated that he wants Wilkinson to remove Throness from the B.C. Liberal caucus or at least remove him from his role as opposition critic for the Ministry of Children and Families.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.