Conservative judges appointed by Donald Trump have ruled to overturn the ban on conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ minors in Florida, determining that it was violating the First Amendment, “Freedom of Speech”.
Circuit Judge Britt Grant recognised that overturning the laws “allows speech that many find concerning — even dangerous” but said it was warranted because the First Amendment “does not allow communities to determine how their neighbors may be counseled about matters of sexual orientation or gender.”
On the other side of the aisle, Circuit Judge Barbara Martin, an appointee of Barack Obama, wrote the dissenting opinion on the ruling. She called conversion therapy a “harmful therapeutic practice.”
Conversion therapy is a method of intervention intended to help homosexual people become straight. The method is most often used by religious communities, and those who attend tend to have deeply held religious beliefs.
The ruling effectively dissolves 21 other bans on the practice passed by cities and counties throughout Florida.
Critics of the method claim that conversion therapy reinforces the social stigma against homosexual, queer and trans people and has been cited as a contributor to depression, anxiety and suicide in those who have undergone the practice.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre has described conversion therapy as “a dangerous practice” that can include “violent role play, reenactment of past abuses, and exercises involving nudity and intimate touching.”
It has been discredited as an effective therapeutic by virtually all major medical, psychiatric and professional counseling organisations in the US.
According to a June UCLA School of Law study, 20 states and Washington DC have banned healthcare professionals from undertaking conversion therapy on children, with Virginia joining this list just this past spring.
Back in March, when Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, stated while signing the ban into law: “This discriminatory practice has been widely discredited in studies and can have lasting effects on our youth, putting them at a greater risk of depression and suicide. No one should be made to feel they are not OK the way they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
Last November, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association backed a nation wide ban on conversion therapy.
While the ban across the country did not pass into law, many major medical, psychiatric and professional counseling organisations in the US, as well as the LGBTQ+ community and allies hope that come the new Biden-Harris Administration in 2021, the proposed ban will be able to become a law.
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