City Council member Lorena Gonzalez is proposing an addition to the Seattle Municipal Code to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors.
“Seattle must send a clear message that we stand with children who are currently subjected to or may be at risk of being subjected to conversion therapy,” said Gonzalez. “Research has repeatedly demonstrated that this practice is ineffective and results in negative health outcomes.”
Conversion therapy proponents believe it can make LGBTQ individuals become heterosexual. The practice is opposed by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and the Human Rights Campaign, among others.
Gonzalez says the bill is intended to reflect the City Council’s position that there is nothing wrong with LGBTQ individuals and that efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation can have a lasting negative impact. From the bill:
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender nonconforming, or queer (LGBTQ) is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years.
If passed, the bill would prohibit anyone in Seattle who provides conversion therapy from providing that service to a minor. Anyone found to be in violation of this ordinance will be fined $500 for the first citation and $1,000 for every following citation.
The bill is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee meeting, with the possibility for a vote. If voted out of committee the bill will then be heard by the full City Council.
The bill comes at the same time as a proponent of conversion therapy takes center stage on the national political front. Indiana governor Mike Pence, recently named as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s running mate, has historically supported the practice. Gonzalez said that her office began working on the bill several months ago in conjunction with LGBTQ advocates and the timing was coincidental.
Gonzalez said she does not expect many arguments against the proposal in Seattle and as far as she knows her fellow council members support the measure.