In Columbia, South Carolina, a significant development has occurred with the passing of an ordinance that bans "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ+ minors.
“Conversion therapy”, also known as “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy, is a pseudoscientific practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity from LGBTQ to heterosexual by using psychological techniques such as talk therapy and aversion treatments.
Every major medical and mental health association in the country has widely discredited this kind of practice.
The Columbia City Council passed a bill on Tuesday that bans licensed therapists from practicing “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ minors in a 4-3 vote.
The new law carries a civil penalty and a potential $500 fine but it doesn’t include pastors as they are not state-licensed practitioners.
The council members acknowledged the importance of protecting vulnerable youth who are subject to this harmful practice and recognized that these practices have not only been shown ineffective but can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.
Coucilman Howard Duvall
“The practice of conversion therapy has been shown to be a terrible practice on young adults,” Councilmember Howard Duvall said after the vote.
Columbia is the first city in the state of South Carolina that has enacted legislation banning “conversion therapy” and it could pave way for other cities, counties, or even states to follow suit.
It’s important not only because mental health professionals should be focused on helping LGBTQ youth develop healthy identities rather than trying to change them but also because these practices don’t work.
While there are currently no state or federal bans on "conversion therapy" across America, the City Council also took the opportunity to formally lend their support to a bill that seeks to ban “conversion therapies” in the state by a 6-1 vote.
It’s encouraging that elected officials are taking action at the local level to protect LGBTQ youth.