Ending Conversion Therapy
The Council unanimously approved an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors in Seattle. The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember M. Lorena González (Citywide), adds a new chapter to the City's existing human rights code and prohibits licensed mental health providers from practicing conversion therapy on minor children by making it a civil violation penalized by a fee of up to $1,000. Conversion therapy is a largely discredited practice that claims to use therapeutic tools to "cure" people of their same-sex attractions or non-conforming gender identity.
"I'd like to thank the LGBTQ advocates who reached out to my office months ago, said Councilmember González. "It is because of their advocacy that we now have this piece of legislation before us, and I'm proud to be the prime sponsor of a bill that affirms equity and the simple truth that being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer or transgender is not an illness."
The legislation prohibits licensed providers from practicing conversion therapy on minors, with a $500 fine for the first violation, and up to $1,000 for any subsequent violations. Advertising for conversion therapy is also prohibited, punishable as a misdemeanor. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcement of the law. Seattle joins Cincinnati, Miami Beach and Washington DC as the fourth city to ban gay conversion therapy. California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont and New Jersey have also enacted statewide prohibitions. Advocates approached Councilmember González to establish a ban on conversion therapy in Seattle following failed attempts for state-wide legislation at the Washington State Legislature.
Dozens of organizations have voiced opposition to the practice of conversion therapy, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.