Despite vocal opposition in the Cincinnati Council Chambers from more than two dozen members of the church and the public,the Cincinnati council voted 7-2 to ban the use of conversion therapies on LGBT+ children.
The council passed the new law which prohibits the use of any kind of therapy designed to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. The new law would make the practice illegal, and could also result in a $200 a day fine for anyone found violating the law.
Cincinnati follows the four states of California, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon, along with the District of Columbia in banning the practice, and becomes the first city outside of Washington D.C. to do so.
Chris Seelbach, who was instrumental in the efforts to passing the law spoke passionately about it, shutting down opposition views, ‘This is about saving the lives of LGBT people.’ He mentioned Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager who took her own life last December following her parents attempts to ‘cure’ her with conversion therapy.
Seelbach mentioned Leelah directly, saying ‘she challenged us to make her death matter, and we’re going just that.’
The comment was made in reference to Leelah’s suicide note, a note that not only asked people to try and make her death have meaning, but directly linked her taking her own life to her parents forcing her into Christian conversion therapy.
‘My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to Christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.’
Despite the fact that protecting vulnerable children from damaging abuse that has proven links to depression, self harm and suicide twenty one people spoke out against the ban during the Council’s comment period. Those that spoke out against the new law, mostly religious leaders, called the ban on conversion therapies as an assault on free speech and the freedom of religion.
Dr. Dan Ferrell, a pastor, said ‘I believe the city should stay out of this. It says something about you. Maybe other cities have better sense.’
‘This Council will create another type of bondage for something people themselves have a right to seek liberty from,’ said Bishop Victor Cousins. Edward Hyde added, ‘I want government to stay out of the bedroom.’
A rather ironic statement as Mr Hyde feels that the government has no place in the bedroom, but the church clearly does. I guess democratically elected officials that represent diverse views and opinions can’t be trusted to decide what’s safe over members of a religion that has hardly changed in two thousand years.
A local civil rights lawyer and gay rights activist, Scott Greenwood, said ‘The people who refer to this as free speech or freedom of religion are misguided because it’s therapy, then it’s medical therapy. 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 is misguided to favour this totally debunked junk science and claim that it is somehow protected as religious expression.’
Most mental-health professional organisations such as the American Psychological Organisation have publicly spoken out against religious conversion therapies, describing them as being completely useless in their ability to change sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as extremely harmful to those undergoing the treatment.
The two council members who voted against the ban, who wish to continue to allow LGBT+ youth to suffer and die are Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn. If you wish to contact these two council members and express displeasure at their voting against the ban you can do so by clicking bellow.
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