City Councilmember M. Lorena González is proposing that Seattle ban mental-health counselors from using so-called “conversion therapy” to try to make gay minors straight.

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The Seattle City Council is considering an ordinance that would ban mental-health counselors from using so-called “conversion therapy” to try to make gay youth straight.

The legislation proposed by Councilmember M. Lorena González would make the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed medical or mental-health professionals punishable by fines of up to $1,000. It would also prohibit the advertising of conversion therapy.

“For many years, in cities and states throughout the country, a variety of organizations and therapists have claimed that they can use talk therapy to successfully ‘treat’ same sex attractions and make a person straight,” says a memo from the council’s central staff to the council’s civil rights committee, which will take up González’s proposal Tuesday.

“Though some people claim to be cured of their homosexuality, professional medical and mental-health organizations have taken the position that conversion therapy is ineffective and can be harmful, particularly to minors.”

Five states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to ban mental-health counselors from engaging in the practice with minors, according to the memo.

But efforts to prohibit conversion therapy nationwide and in Washington state have so far failed to win approval in Congress and Olympia.

A bill banning conversion therapy on minors passed Washington’s House with a 94 to 4 vote in 2014 but then stalled in the Senate.

Seattle would be the third city in the country to ban the practice, after Cincinnati and Miami Beach, the memo says.

“We began efforts to address conversion therapy in Seattle when local LGBTQ advocates approached us months ago,” González said in a statement Friday.

“Conversion therapy is not supported by the medical or scientific community, and has no place in our city, state, or country. I am proud that Seattle can once again lead on an issue that is now gaining attention in the national dialogue. More importantly, we have an opportunity to affirm and stand with LGBTQ youth.”

Because mental-health counselors are licensed at the state level rather than the city level, only state bans can involve license-related repercussions, the memo says.

González’s ordinance would make the practice a civil violation under city law. It would allow the Seattle Office of Civil Rights to issue fines of $500 for a first violation and $1,000 for subsequent violations.

The proposed legislation cites a 2009 resolution by the American Psychological Association advising “parents, guardians, young people and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as mental illness or a developmental disorder.”

Neither the ordinance nor the memo addressed how prevalent conversion therapy is in Seattle.