Ferndale becomes third city in Michigan to ban gay conversion therapy


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Ferndale City Council voted unanimously Monday to make it a crime to perform so-called gay conversion therapy, a discredited practice that purports to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender.

The ban comes about four months after Huntington Woods became the first city in Michigan to prohibit conversion therapy. In September, East Lansing banned the practice.

Ferndale’s actions go further by making the practice a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail. Huntington Woods made it a civil fraction.

“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,” City Councilwoman Julia Music, who manages the city’s annual Ferndale Pride event, said in a new release. “Council bringing up a ban on this therapy continues our mission of building safe and inclusive space to all people.”

Democrats in Lansing have introduced a similar ban on the state level, but Republicans are expected to oppose it.

In May, Colorado became the 18th state to ban the controversial practice. At least 52 municipalities now prohibit the practice, which treats homosexuality as a choice and a mental illness that can be treated. But voluminous research shows that conversion therapy increases depression, drug abuse, and the risk of suicide among teens.

“Conversion therapy is hurting and killing people,” Dave Garcia, executive director for Affirmations, the area’s largest LGBTQ community center, says in a news release. “I’ve seen for myself the damage this practice does to our youth. It’s not therapy, and we should not allow it in our city.”

The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association are opposed to the practice and say it's ineffective.

New York City is repealing its ban on conversion therapy to avoid a free-speech lawsuit. City officials fear that a lawsuit could prompt the conservative Supreme Court to rule that bans on conversion therapy are unconstitutional.

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