Ferndale, Michigan, follows Huntington Woods’ lead and bans conversion theraapy for minors.
Ferndale, Michigan is taking strides to protect LGBTQAI rights by making conversion therapy for minors a crime. The Ferndale City Council recently voted to make the scientifically discredited practice a misdemeanor. Council member Julia Music introduced the ordinance.
Huntington Woods banned the therapy earlier this year, and Ferndale is believed to be the second. Huntington Woods Commissioner Joe Rozzell said conversion therapy is “a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything that this city stands for.”
Under the new law, offering the therapy to minors will be punishable by up to 93 days in jail or cost the provider a $500 fine. The ordinance states, “Conversation therapy or reparative therapy means any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same gender. Conversion therapy shall not include counseling that provides support and assistance to a person undergoing gender transition, or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and development, including sexual orientation neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as such counseling does not seek to change sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Dave Garcia, the executive director of Affirmations said, “I’ve seen the damage conversion therapy does…What happens in conversion therapy is killing people.”
The law was originally brought to the council as a proposed civil infraction, but council members up the penalty. The council passed it unanimously.
“We need to put more teeth into this,” said Councilperson Dennis Whittie.
“It was a prideful moment to pass the strictest ordinance against conversion therapy in the state of Michigan,” council member Julia Music, who added, “The decision not only creates a safer more inclusive Ferndale, it also sends a strong message that we will not support a practice that raises the likelihood of suicide, depression and long-term negative consequences for those its inflicted on.”
In a release, Music wrote, “It’s essential for LGBTQAI people to have access to proper mental health care, and for those who are impacted by conversion therapy to access care that can start to undo the harm conversion tactics inflict. Council bringing up a ban on this therapy continues our mission of building safe and inclusive space to all people.”
New York City is taking steps to repeal a ban because of concerns that the ban could be challenged on free-speech grounds in a lawsuit that has been brought about by a Christian organization.
New York City Council member Corey Johnson, who is gay, said, “Obviously I didn’t want to repeal this. I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right-wing groups. But the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, has become more conservative.” He added, “I really struggled with it because I don’t want to look like we’re retreating in the face of an organization that brought this lawsuit that has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ultimately, I think this is the responsible, strategic and right thing to do.”