New York City has repealed its conversion therapy ban, passed nearly two years ago to protect both minors and adults from the dangerous and debunked practice, designed to change one's sexual orientation and gender identity.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (above), who is gay and who co-sponsored the legislation banning conversion therapy from being practiced on both adults and minors, announced Thursday the state would act quickly to repeal the ban. This has led to some confusion, but the ban is not being repealed because of a loss of faith in it, but rather due to legal concerns.
Conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit challenging the law, claiming it violated the free speech rights of counselors.
"This law was a textbook violation of free speech and the right of individuals to pursue the lives and identities they want to exercise,” said Roger Brooks, a senior lawyer for the group, which says its mission is to defend religious freedom.
"We went in with confidence that the courts would agree with us," told The New York Times. “This move by the city suggests that on mature consideration, they think that would be the outcome as well.”
Johnson called the decision "painful" and noted it was not done lightly, but rather settled upon for fear the case could end up at the conservative Supreme Court.
"After intense deliberation, the Council concluded that it was best to take this drastic step," he said in a statement. "The courts have changed considerably over the last few years, and we cannot count on them to rule in favor of much-needed protections for the LGBTQ community."
Johnson continued by calling the "alleged therapy...barbaric and inhumane," before adding that "repealing this law seemed to be the best path forward."
If the ban is successfully repealed the city will be governed by the state's conversion therapy ban, which only applies to minors. It was passed in January of this year. Adults could bring consumer fraud claims if they feel they have been duped by the practice, however.
State Senator Brad Hoylman (above, left), who, like Johnson, is also gay, sponsored the state's conversion therapy ban and said he is pleased with the decision made by the city.
"The legal climate is less favorable at the federal level for the LGBTQ community,” he said. “We crafted the law specifically to pass a legal challenge because we knew this was an area that anti-LGBT legal forces were exploring.”
New York is among 18 states that have banned conversion therapy from being practiced on minors. Washington, D.C. has also banned it, as have dozens of municipalities.