Christian therapist loses legal battle to overturn Washington’s ban on cruel conversion therapy

Washington conversion therapy ban Brian Tingley lmft therapist

An anti-LGBT+ therapist has lost his legal battle to overturn a Washington ban on conversion therapy for minors.

“Christian licensed marriage and family therapist” Brian Tingley was represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated extremist hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in the case.

Earlier this year, Tingley filed a lawsuit against Washington attorney general Robert Ferguson, the state’s secretary of health Umair Shah, Kristin Peterson, and the assistant secretary of the Health Systems Quality Assurance division of the Washington department of health.

The therapist argued that the state’s ban on minors undergoing the harmful practice, signed by governor Jay Inslee in 2018, should be overturned as the provided definition of “conversion therapy” was “vague, content-biased, and biased against one perspective or point of view”.

According to the legislation, conversion therapy is defined as “a regime that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

It continues: “The term includes efforts to change behaviours or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

“The term includes, but is not limited to, practices commonly referred to as ‘reparative therapy’.” 

The legislation is clear that the term “conversion therapy” does not include counselling that provides “acceptance, support, and understanding” for LGBT+ people, and that the legislation does not apply to “religious practices or counselling under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or organisation that do not constitute the performance of conversion therapy by licensed health care providers on clients under age 18″.

In the lawsuit, ADF consistently referred to the ban as the “Counselling Censorship Law”, and declared that Tingley “is not able to freely and without fear speak what he believes to be true”.

Despite the fact that the harmful practice has been debunked globally by most major medical and psychiatric associations, the hate group also claimed that “arguments based on the immutability of sexual orientation are unscientific, given that scientific research does not indicate that sexual orientation is uniformly biologically determined at birth or that patterns of same-sex and other-sex attractions remain fixed over the life course”.

Horrifyingly, the lawsuit detailed examples of when Tingley had given therapy to trans kids, who had then “specifically expressed the desire to accept and achieve comfort with their God-given sex as a faith-driven motivation for their goals in counselling”.

Washington must protect ‘its minors against exposure to serious harm caused by conversion therapy’, the court ruled

On Monday (30 August), the US District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed the case seeking to invalidate the conversion therapy ban.

In his ruling, district judge Robert Bryan said that the “conversion law does not violate the plaintiff’s First Amendment free speech rights”, and reasserted that the state of Washington has an interest “in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harm caused by conversion therapy”.

In a statement, Washington attorney general Robert Ferguson, a defendant in the case, said: “Today we won an important victory for LGBT+ civil rights.

“A federal court in Tacoma rejected the legal challenge to our state law banning conversion therapy on minors.

“The research is clear – conversion therapy does not work, and can be particularly harmful to minors… I am proud of my legal team for defending this important law.”