NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness’s unapologetic support for a Christian magazine that runs anti-LGBTQ articles has led to a request by a prominent NDP MLA to have him removed from the BC Liberal caucus.

In a letter sent to BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson Wednesday morning, NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said if Throness is not removed from caucus, at the very least he should be removed from his role as opposition critic for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“Your Critic for the Ministry of Children and Families Laurie Throness went to media and insisted he will not stop advertising in this homophobic magazine,” Chandra Herbert wrote to Wilkinson. “He then defended an article supporting conversion therapy, as long as it didn’t include kidnapping or wasn’t too ‘coercive.’

“Sit with that for a second: the MLA you’ve put in charge of child care and supporting vulnerable children believes there is a place for conversion therapy.”

He went on to explain how conversion therapy has no basis in science and can be quite destructive as a homophobic and transphobic practice, something Wilkinson himself did not deny.

BC Liberal ad in the Oct. 4, 2019 edition of The Light Magazine.

Chandra Herbert says it’s been 12 days since the leader tweeted that such views had no place in the BC Liberal party, yet Throness has defied that directive.

“If there is no room for homophobia and transphobia in your party, you will eject Laurie Throness from your caucus. Failing that, you will act and remove this MLA from his role as Children’s critic.”

See below for the full letter.

The controversy started when it came to light that Throness and several other MLAs, including Wilkinson, used taxpayer dollars to advertise in “The Light Magazine,” a Langley-based Christian publication that frequently runs articles that express antipathy towards the LGBTQ community in various ways.

• READ MORE: Controversy over MLAs buying ads in B.C. magazine that opposes trans rights

At least three MLAs expressed dismay and apologized when they were asked about the advertising in the religious publication. Party leader Wilkinson similarly backed away from the advertising, suggesting in a Tweet there was no room for homophobia, transphobia, or any discrimination in the BC Liberal Party.

BC Liberal MLA Todd Stone apologized for his constituency office’s connection to the magazine, and made it clear he did not support its messaging.

Several others, including Chilliwack MLA John Martin, who advertised in the publication, have been silent.

Throness, however, doubled down and told CTV News Vancouver that he will continue to advertise in the magazine as it aligns with his “Biblical Christian” values.

“Biblical Christians follow their Lord in their sexual practice. They don’t attack other people, they don’t condemn other people, because Jesus did not condemn other people,” Throness said.

“They withdraw from sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. That has nothing to do with intolerance, it has everything to do with following their conscience and following their Lord.”

And while he said one article in the magazine he supports is against “coercive conversion therapy” – kidnapping LGBTQ individuals to make them straight – he opposes a bill that would prevent conversion therapy because it “infringes upon Canadian freedoms” such as the “freedom of religion.”

Wilkinson did not immediately respond to Chandra Herbert’s letter.

Throness declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Chilliwack Progress.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert’s full letter to BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson on July 15, 2020:

Leader of the Official Opposition,

Two weeks ago, we learned that the BC Liberal caucus spent thousands of public dollars advertising in Light Magazine, a publication that promotes homophobic, transphobic, and extreme anti-abortion views.

On behalf of my colleagues in the BC NDP caucus, I am writing first to thank you for your new commitment to ensure ‘there is no room in the BC Liberal Party for homophobia, transphobia, or any other form of discrimination.’

As you know, in the past I have expressed deep concern about anti-LGBTQ views from MLAs in your caucus. I remain concerned, and am writing to ask you for action.

Since your statement, some of the BC Liberal MLAs who placed ads apologized, and I thank them for acknowledging the harm caused by homophobic and transphobic practices like conversion therapy. Most did not. You committed that none of your MLAs would support this magazine again. But words are easy. Action is what counts.

Your Critic for the Ministry of Children and Families Laurie Throness went to media and insisted he will not stop advertising in this homophobic magazine. He then defended an article supporting conversion therapy, as long as it didn’t include kidnapping or wasn’t too ‘coercive.’

Sit with that for a second: the MLA you’ve put in charge of child care and supporting vulnerable children believes there is a place for conversion therapy.

Again – conversion therapy is a discredited, abusive practice where LGBTQ people are taught to hate themselves and convert to something they are not. It leads to self-harm, depression, and suicide. It is discriminatory. It is homophobic. It is transphobic. No science supports this abuse, and neither should the BC Liberal party’s lead on children and family issues.

It’s just the latest in a series of anti-LGBTQ views your MLA has shared:

– He refused to support adding gender identity or expression to the list of protections in the B.C. Human Rights Code.

– He has criticized SOGI 123 and claimed it would cause ‘mental health issues’ and ‘self-harm.’

– He defended Chilliwack School Trustee Barry Neufeld, calling him ‘a really great and good person’ after he was widely criticized for comparing gender transitioning to child abuse.

Beliefs like this should have no place in a political party – but even less so in the MLA you have entrusted with the well-being of vulnerable children.

It has been 12 days since your MLA defended conversion therapy and indicated that he will defy your direction. I have been disappointed to see no action from you during that time.

If there is no room for homophobia and transphobia in your party, you will eject Laurie Throness from your caucus. Failing that, you will act and remove this MLA from his role as Children’s critic.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Spencer Chandra Herbert

MLA, Vancouver-West End


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