Another US city moves closer to banning conversion therapy

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Seattle may become the second US city to ban conversion therapy.

Seattle City Council’s civil rights committee unanimously passed legislation on Tuesday that would put a ban on harmful and discredited conversion therapy practices for minors.

Conversion therapy is the treatment that falsely claims to change an LGBT person’s sexual orientation or gender identity to straight.

So far, these ‘treatments’ are banned in the states of California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey and District of Columbia; the only other city to explicitly ban the practice is Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hawaii also introduced legislation to ban the practice earlier this year.


Seattle Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, who sponsored the ordinance, called conversion therapy a ‘disservice’ to LGBTI youth.

“It’s absolutely offensive to me,” she said.

“Instead of providing these children, who are going through perhaps a moment of confusion… instead of providing them the support that they need, there are people out there who believe it’s appropriate to convince these children that their same-sex orientation is somehow a disease, or an illness, or something that can be cured.”

Monisha Harrell, of Equal Rights Washington, pointed out the significance of the bill only pertaining to minors receiving these treatments.

“If adults choose to do this – that’s a decision that they can make but for minors, they don’t have the ability to consent and so they don’t have the ability to say that this abuse is not appropriate,” she said.

The full City Council has to pass the legislation before it can come into effect; the vote is scheduled for next Monday.

If it does pass, counselors offering conversion therapy should be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for any following ones.

The ordinance would only apply to licensed mental health and medical professionals – religious leaders and organizations would be exempt from the new rule.