Minneapolis will become the first city in the state of Minnesota to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ which claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The new ordinance, authored by Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, was passed unanimously by the Minneapolis City Council.
According to the Star Tribune, the only step left is for Mayor Jacob Frey to sign the ordinance into law.
The ban will prohibit any licensed mental health professional from providing or attempting conversion therapy on minors. Violations will be subject to fines of up to $1,000.
Members of the clergy who are “acting in their roles as clergy or pastoral counselors” will be exempt from the regulation.
Cunningham, the first transgender man of color to be elected to public office in the U.S., called the harmful practice “tantamount to torture.”
And he speaks from personal experience having been subjected to conversion therapy as a child in his church.
Speaking to the local NBC News affiliate, Cunningham said succinctly, “It tries to convince people that they are not who they are.”
Conversion therapy, also known as ‘ex-gay therapy,’ has been widely denounced as discredited pseudoscience by leading professional medical associations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association.
Studies have shown that the controversial practice can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 18 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this harmful practice.
This week the American Medical Association announced its support for a federal ban on the dangerous practice.