By: Charles Dettmeier
New York City is looking at repealing a law that banned gay conversion therapy.
Legislation was introduced last Thursday due, reportedly, to worries over a federal lawsuit that might end up in a decision that the LGBTQ community might not like if and when the issue reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.
The planned repeal must move to a committee hearing next week. Following that, it will face a vote in the full council. If it passes, it would be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The council had passed the ban against conversion therapy, which is designed to alter sexual orientation or gender identity, less than 24 months ago. It went into effect in 2018.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson tried to put a positive spin and insulate himself from as much criticism as possible by claiming that the move to repeal the ban was what he termed a “painful” decision.
“After intense deliberation, the council concluded that it was best to take this drastic step,” Johnson noted in a prepared statement. “The courts have changed considerably over the last few years, and we cannot count on them to rule in favor of much-needed protections for the LGBTQ community. To be clear, this alleged therapy is barbaric and inhumane, but repealing this law seemed to be the best path forward.”
Conversion therapy aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions. Opinion polls have found that conversion therapy bans enjoy popular support among the American population, according to Wikipedia. “As of 2019, no nationwide opinion poll has been carried out, though surveys in three states (Florida, New Mexico and Virginia) show support varying between 60% and 75%. According to a 2014 national poll, only 8% of Americans believed conversion therapies to be successful.”
“The city’s law, passed in December 2017, was sponsored by Melissa Mark-Viverito, then the Council speaker. It prohibited consumers from being charged “for services intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” and created a $1,000 fine for each violation,” reported the New York Times. “In January, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based group, filed a lawsuit challenging the law on the grounds that it violated free speech, suggesting that the measure was “the first in the nation to censor speech” between counselors and adult patients.”
“This law was a textbook violation of free speech and the right of individuals to pursue the lives and identities they want to exercise,” Roger Brooks, a senior lawyer for the group, which says its mission is to defend religious freedom,” told the Times. “We went in with confidence that the courts would agree with us,” he said. “This move by the city suggests that on mature consideration, they think that would be the outcome as well.”