Tags: DC | gay conversion therapy

Gay Conversion Therapy on Minors Banned By DC Council

By    |   Wednesday, 03 December 2014 04:59 PM

The Washington, D.C. City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance which makes it illegal to practice gay conversion therapy on minors in the city.

Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to sign the measure soon, making D.C. and the states of California and New Jersey the only places in the U.S. where sexual orientation change therapy for minors is legally banned, The Christian Post reports.

The measure, which exempts therapy to assist the willing transition from one sex to another, defines the therapy as "a practice by a provider that seeks to change a consumer’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender."

The bill received strong support from gay activists and was just as bitterly opposed by groups such as the Family Research Council (FRC), whose senior fellow for policy studies Peter Sprigg said in a statement that the D.C. City Council "disregarded powerful testimony by therapists who debunked misconceptions about sexual reorientation therapy and by clients who had benefited from it.

"This new law is an outrageous assault upon the freedom of speech of therapists, the freedom of religion of clients who seek help in living lives consistent with their faith, and the privacy of the therapist-client relationship."

However, Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said: "No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy. While the LGBT youth in our nation's capital will soon be protected once this bill is signed into law, HRC is committed to making sure these kinds of protections are secured throughout the entire nation."

That could prove difficult. While the Supreme Court declined to hear a case opposing the California ban and a federal appeals court upheld the New Jersey ban, efforts to pass such legislation elsewhere, such as in Maryland, have failed, The Washington Post reports.

Other states including Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Virginia have "blocked or withdrawn similar proposed pieces of legislation," The Christian Post notes.

D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, who sponsored the bill, termed the therapy practice "quackery" and told Metro Weekly that "it would be one thing if it was ineffective, but it’s actually harmful."

Metro Weekly notes that the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the District of Columbia Psychological Association and the DC Metro chapter of the National Association of Social Workers all oppose the therapy.

Samantha Ames, staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Metro Weekly: "Today the D.C. Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported and loved."

The bill will require a 30-day Congressional review period after the mayor signs it before going into effect. Therapists who continue to provide gay conversion therapy on those under 18 after that could be faced with a loss of their license to practice and other penalties, Metro Weekly notes.

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The Washington, D.C. City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance which makes it illegal to practice gay conversion therapy on minors in the city.
DC, gay conversion therapy
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 04:59 PM
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