BC Liberal ad including Laurie Throness (bottom right) in the Oct. 4, 2019 edition of The Light Magazine.

BC Liberal ad including Laurie Throness (bottom right) in the Oct. 4, 2019 edition of The Light Magazine.

Open letter urges BC Liberal party to remove Laurie Throness as Chilliwack-Kent candidate

The letter says Throness holds homophobic views and should have no place in government

The president of the Chilliwack Metis Association is among those urging the BC Liberals to remove Laurie Throness as a candidate in the upcoming provincial election.

Louis De Jaeger has signed an open letter suggesting Throness holds homophobic and transphobic views and should be taken off the ballot for the Chilliwack-Kent riding.

Chillliwack School Trustee Willow Reichelt also signed the letter, which includes 38 individuals along with the board of Chilliwack Citizens for Change, the board of the Chilliwack Pride Society and the Tri-Cities Pride Society.

“We represent a wide section of people in British Columbia who advocate for and promote safe, positive, and welcoming communities for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities,” the letter stated. “We have come together to write to you to express our disappointment with the space you continue to provide for homophobia and transphobia in your party.”

Criticism directed at Throness largely stems from his decision to join other provincial Liberals advertising in “The Light Magazine,” a Langley-based Christian publication with a reputation for running homophobic and transphobic content.

READ MORE: BC NDP wants Laurie Throness removed from Liberal caucus

READ MORE: B.C. Liberal MLA first to get signs up in Chilliwack-Kent riding

While others apologized for that decision, including BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, Throness said he would continue to advertise in the magazine. He also appeared to express support for conversion therapy — the controversial practice of trying to alter sexual orientation through psychological, physical or spiritual intervention.

“Laurie Throness has publicly defended conversion therapy, which causes harm and trauma to LGBTQ+ children and youth,” the letter noted. “Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice with no basis in science, and it costs lives. It is our view that there should be no space for views like this in a major political party seeking to govern.”

Following the advertising controversy, which flared up in July, Wilkinson went on record saying “There is no room in the BC Liberal Party for homophobia, transphobia, or any other form of discrimination.’”

Wilkinson was asked about homophobia and transphobia on Oct. 1.

“My family includes gay people and lesbian people. I love them,” Wilkinson said, according to a Tweet from Vancouver Sun columnist Rob Shaw. “It is not right and it is not acceptable and this is where our party stands.”

But despite facing pressure from the BC NDP party and others to remove Throness from his role as the opposition critic for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, he remained in the BC Liberal caucus.

The letter writers suggested Wilkinson’s words are hollow unless backed by action.

“Removing Laurie Throness would show the people of British Columbia that you don’t tolerate homophobia and transphobia,” they wrote. “The deadline for removing Laurie Throness as a candidate is Friday, October 2nd, at 1 pm. We urge you to back up your statements with actions and demonstrate that discrimination has no place in the BC Liberal Party.”

In August, the president of the Chilliwack-Kent Liberal Riding Association resigned from her long-held role after media reports about allegedly homophobic comment she made on social media.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack-Kent Liberal riding association president resigns

READ MORE: All your 2020 B.C. Election coverage in one place


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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