Seattle is looking to become the second city in the United States to ban conversion therapy.
The City Council’s civil rights committee unanimously passed a proposed ordinance, which would ban conversion therapy for minors inside the city boundaries.
So far, it has been banned in the states of California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey and the District of Columbia; the only other city to explicitly ban conversion therapy is Cincinnati, Ohio.
Seattle Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, who sponsored the ordinance, called the practice a ‘disservice’ to LGBTI youth.
‘It’s absolutely offensive to me,’ she told KIRO-TV.
‘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.’
The full City Council has to adopt the ordinance before it can come into effect; the decision is scheduled for Monday, 1 August.
If the Council decides in favor, counselors offering conversion therapy should be fined $500 at the first offence, and $1,000 for any following ones.
Considered a civil violation, the city’s Office of Civil rights would be responsible for enforcing the rule.
The ordinance would also only apply to licensed mental health and medical professionals.
Religious leaders and organizations are exempt and could not be fined under a new rule.
Critics told KIRO-TV Gonzalez’ proposal was an infringement of parental rights and an attempt ‘for the gay mafia to basically push their views’.
Speaking to Kuow, mental health counselor Alex Myric said conversion therapy was ‘about a willing participant and a willing clinician’ and far from the torture it is often described as.
But those who went through conversion therapy themselves, like trans activist Danni Askini, welcomed the ordinance.
She said: ‘These harmful, and discredited and unscientific practices damage the mental health and well-being of young people to feel affirmed, safe and connected to medical mental health providers who they should be able to rely on.’
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