The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to ban mental-health counselors from using so-called “conversion therapy” to try to turn gay youth straight.
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to ban mental-health counselors from using so-called “conversion therapy” to try to make gay youth straight.
Councilmember M. Lorena González’s ordinance will make the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed medical or mental-health professionals punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and will prohibit advertising for it.
The District of Columbia and five states have taken steps to ban mental-health counselors from engaging in the practice.
But efforts to prohibit conversion therapy nationwide and in Washington have so far failed to win approval in Congress and the state Legislature.
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Seattle would be the third city in the country to ban the practice.
“Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender is not an illness, nor is it something that needs a cure,” González said. “Conversion therapy is a harmful practice that needs to end.”
She said conversion therapy is “psychological manipulation” and has been discredited.
Her ordinance cites a 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.”
The ordinance would make the practice a civil violation, allowing the Seattle Office of Civil Rights to fine $500 for a first violation and $1,000 for subsequent violations.
Nationwide, one in three LGBTQ youth may experience some form of conversion therapy upon coming out, González said. She didn’t have data on how prevalent the practice is in Seattle.