Also referred to as “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy, conversion therapy is any practice by a mental health provider that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward same-sex individuals. Such practices, especially when imposed on LGBTQ youth, have historically included methods ranging from talk therapy to shock therapy.
“This bill sends the necessary and clear message to all Philadelphians that ‘conversion therapy’ is a deceptive term for an unacceptable practice that employs psychological abuse, rejection and shame. No young person anywhere, and certainly not in Philadelphia, should be subjected to torture for who they are or who they love,” Councilman Squilla said.
“Philadelphia stands as a City of love, acceptance and hope for all people. Our LGBTQ youth cannot and will not be subjected to the torment and torture of conversion therapy in our City,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “I am heartened by the other cities passing similar bills and hope the message resounds nationwide: We cannot stand for violence of any kind against people for who they are or who they love.”
The nation’s leading mental health associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, have issued position statements warning about the dangers of conversion therapy practices, which are known to lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and suicide.
Director of LGBT Affairs Nellie Fitzpatrick added: “Eliminating this barbaric practice is one step toward ending the pain and rejection too many LGBTQ youth experience behind closed doors. LGBTQ young people should never be shamed or tortured, by anyone, into thinking that who they are is wrong. Every young queer kid out there deserves to live a happy, full, loved life exactly as they are.”
Adoption and implementation of Councilman Squilla’s ordinance will be accompanied by an education campaign to inform parents and youth about discredited therapy practices, with the goal of reducing family rejection, depression, substance abuse, and suicide in the LGBTQ community. The ban would not apply to mainstream therapies that facilitate support or acceptance of LGBTQ identities, social support or identity exploration, or that address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices.
Read the ordinance: Conversion Therapy Ban.
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Councilman Mark Squilla represents Philadelphia’s 1st District, which includes portions of South Philadelphia, Center City, Chinatown, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond. More information at phlcouncil.com/MarkSquilla