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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 11, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 50
Cincinnati City Council bans conversion therapy
Section One
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Cincinnati City Council bans conversion therapy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Cincinnati City Council voted to ban conversion therapy for minors on December 9. The vote was 7-2.

The new law prohibits therapy that claims to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors and imposes a $200 per day fine on violators. Cincinnati is only the second city in the country to do so, following Washington, D.C. California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon also bar the practice.

'This is about saving the lives of LGBT people,' said openly Gay Councilmember Chris Seelbach, who sponsored the legislation.

Seelbach invoked the memory of Leelah Alcorn, a Transgender teenager who killed herself last December. Her suicide note cited the conversion therapy to which she had been subjected.

'She challenged us to make her death matter, and we're doing just that,' Seelbach said.

Twenty-one pastors lined up to speak against the measure, calling it a violation of First Amendment free speech and freedom of religion protections, but constitutional attorney and Gay activist Scott Greenwood said the law would withstand constitutional scrutiny.

'The people who referred to this as free speech or freedom of religion are misguided, because if it's therapy, then it's medical therapy,' Greenwood said. 'By definition, that is not speech and not free exercise of religion.

'So, there is no problem regulating this. There is no First Amendment angle to this. It's misguided to favor this totally debunked junk science and claim that it is somehow protected as religious expression.'

The American Psychological Association has labeled conversion therapy as not useful and possibly harmful to patients.

The one person speaking on behalf of the law, John Boggess, the board chairman of Equality Ohio, said that banning conversion therapy 'is a matter of public safety.'

In April, President Barack Obama condemned conversion therapy, also mentioning Alcorn.

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