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Seattle bans conversion therapy that aims to turn gay children straight

Seattle has banned the practice of conversion therapy for minors. (KIRO 7)

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved ban on therapies designed to “cure” LGBTQ children, calling conversion therapy a “dangerous process.”

“Conversion therapy is a harmful practice that needs to end and cannot be allowed to grab a foothold in Seattle or anywhere else,” said Councilmember Lorena Gonzales.

Gonzales spearheaded the effort to ban conversion therapy in Seattle. The council unanimously approved her bill Monday, which bans the practice for people younger than 18.

Seattle now becomes the third city in the United States to enact such a ban. Under the new ordinance, no mental health professional can conduct “conversion therapy” on a minor, or advertise such a therapy. A first offense would bring a $500 fine, then $1,000 for every offense after that.

Conversion therapy is known by many names, such as reparative therapy, or more colloquially “pray the gay away.” It commonly involves methods that aim to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. It generally operates on the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder. It is not accepted as a valid therapy by the medical community. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the practice “worse than snake oil.”

“Discredited practices, as it relates to our LGBTQ children, will not be tolerated,” Gonzales said.

KIRO Radio’s Dan Restione contributed to this article.


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