New York City to end ban on gay conversion therapy to avoid Supreme Court fight

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Members of the New York City Council plan to repeal a nearly 2-year-old ban on LGBT “conversion therapy” to avoid a lawsuit that, if it reaches the Supreme Court, could establish a legal precedent protecting the practice, The New York Times reported.

The city measure, passed in 2017, bans the selling of “services intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” and is the subject of a lawsuit by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization that opposes abortion and LGBT rights and alleges the law criminalizes free speech.

{mosads}New York City Council Speaker Cory Johnson (D) argued the measure was necessary due to the conservative majority on the high court following President Trump’s appointment of Justices Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

“Obviously I didn’t want to repeal this. I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right-wing groups,” Johnson, who is gay, told the Times. “But the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, has become more conservative.”

The conversion therapy practice has been widely condemned and viewed with skepticism by medical and psychiatric professional organizations. A decade ago, an American Psychological Association report determined it does not work and actively harms those who undergo it, the Times noted.

Conversion therapy for minors specifically is illegal in 18 states, Washington, D.C., and more than 50 municipalities. New York banned the practice entirely at the state level in January.

“I’m heartened that the City Council pulled back a statute that could undermine efforts nationally to end conversion therapy because it might be viewed as overly broad,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D), who is openly gay, told the Times.

The state law, he added, was written “specifically to pass a legal challenge because we knew this was an area that anti-L.G.B.T. legal forces were exploring,” he said.

“We went in with confidence that the courts would agree with us,” the ADF’s Roger Brooks told the newspaper. “This move by the city suggests that on mature consideration, they think that would be the outcome as well.”

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