Human Rights Campaign Applauds Cleveland City Council for Historic Vote Banning the Detrimental Practice of Conversion Therapy

by Henry Berg-Brousseau

The legislation, Ordinance No. 696-2022, was advanced by the chamber in a unanimous vote and will now head to Mayor Justin Bibb’s desk, where he is expected to sign the measure into law.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, applauded the Cleveland City Council for its vote approving a ban on the dangerous and universally discredited practice of conversion therapy for local youth. The legislation, Ordinance No. 696-2022, was advanced by the chamber in a unanimous vote and will now head to Mayor Justin Bibb’s desk, where he is expected to sign the measure into law.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:

“Tonight, the City of Cleveland made it clear that LGBTQ+ young people should be seen, heard, and protected, especially from the harmful, archaic and extensively debunked practice of conversion therapy. Conversion therapy isn’t really therapy at all – it’s abuse – and it has been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades. Yet, the practice has continued, leading to extremely dangerous mental health consequences for those who have experienced it. HRC thanks Councilmember Kevin Conwell and Council President Blaine Griffin for advancing this ordinance through their respective committees, along with our partner organizations — Equality Ohio, The Trevor Project, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights — for helping to get this lifesaving ban to the finish line. We look forward to Mayor Bibb signing this into law.”

Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum released the following statement:

“Practices of so-called conversion “therapy“ are not only immoral and ineffective, they are extremely harmful. Our precious youth deserve to feel seen, accepted and loved—and that’s exactly what Cleveland has done by passing this ordinance. We know that there is mounting evidence against the long-term physical and psychological impacts of conversion therapy. The only solution is to prohibit the practice and give parents the most accurate information on how to best support their LGBTQ+ child. Until Ohio protects our youth against this harm statewide, we will continue to support these ordinances one locality at a time.”

The ordinance, sponsored by Councilmembers Brian Mooney, Kerry McCormack, Jenny Spencer, Rebecca Maurer, and Stephanie Howse, forbids all mental health professionals within city limits from "knowingly engag[ing] ... in sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression change efforts with a minor, without regard to whether the mental health professional is compensated or receives any form of renumeration for his or her services."

Cleveland is now the latest city in Ohio to move closer to completely banning the implementation of conversion therapy, with nine municipalities across the State already outlawing the practice, along with over 70 cities and counties nationwide. To date, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have passed laws or regulations prohibiting the practice, with eight of these state laws or regulations having been enacted under Republican governors.

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of practices, built on no credible evidence, that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, efforts that have long been opposed by major medical and health organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association. However, due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ+ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

According to a 2019 report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ+ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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