Metro Weekly

Three more municipalities move to ban anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy

Resolutions call on lawmakers to pass statewide laws banning sexual orientation change efforts

Lakewood, Ohio – Photo: Facebook; Erie, Pa. – Photo: Pat Noble, via Wikimedia; and Eau Claire, Wis. – Photo: Xavexgoem, via Wikimedia.

Three more municipalities in states across America have proposed or passed legislation to ban licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting LGBTQ-identifying youth to conversion therapy.

In Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, City Councilman Dan O’Malley has introduced legislation to approve an ordinance banning the practice. Therapists who engage in conversion therapy can potentially be threatened with fines or the loss of their licenses.

O’Malley says he is not aware of any therapists who practice conversion therapy within Lakewood, but knows there are some counselors who practice conversion therapy within Ohio, reports NBC affiliate WKYC.

“We want to send a clear message that they are not welcome here,” he said of those therapists.

A hearing to consider the ordinance is scheduled for Oct. 8 and a vote could be taken as soon as Oct. 15.

LGBTQ advocates and allies have petitioned Ohio Gov. John Kasich to push for a statewide ban on conversion therapy, and hope that it will become more politically convenient to push for such a measure as individual municipalities introduce bans. Athens, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo currently have citywide bans on conversion therapy.

In Erie, Pa., the City Council passed a resolution on a 7-0 vote asking the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Council research and report back on a potential ban on conversion therapy, reports YourErie.com.

The advisory council is expected to meet in October, and the city solicitor has already seen a draft of a possible ordinance. If they approve a review, the proposed ordnance would still need to be voted on by the city council and signed by the mayor.

Councilwoman Kathy Schaaf introduced the resolution to “have everyone feel that they are a part of the city and this is their home. They are welcomed here. They are loved.”

Schaaf says she wants to learn how local and state policies can better protect LGBTQ residents from discrimination or mistreatment.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the Eau Claire County Board unanimously approved a resolution addressing conversion therapy, reports ABC affiliate WQOW.

The Eau Claire County Corporation Counsel has determined that the board has no authority to regulate the types of therapy practiced in the county. So instead, the resolution asks state lawmakers to pass legislation regulating conversion therapy.

The resolution also urges lawmakers to pass regulations that not only regulate the therapy, but ban its practice on people under the age of 18.

Currently, 14 states have passed laws banning conversion therapy, as have the cities of Milwaukee and Madison. The practice purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, but most mainstream medical and mental health associations have rejected the claim that it is effective. In fact, the American Psychological Association found people who were subjected to conversion therapy experienced suicidal ideation at a rate nine times higher than those who did not submit to the therapy.

“If there isn’t any scientific therapeutic value in it, then it would seem as though it’s something we shouldn’t be supporting, with conversion therapy, there isn’t any evidence at all,” Eau Claire County Board Chair Colleen Bates said at a hearing on the resolution last week. “As a matter of fact in some cases, it’s believed to be detrimental to the individuals involved in that kind of therapy.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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