The key legislative body overseeing Washington, D.C., unanimously approved two measures supporting the LGBT community Tuesday, reports the Washington Blade.
All members of the D.C. City Council voted to enact a law prohibiting licensed therapists from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of anyone under 18, reports the Blade. The nation's capital becomes the third U.S. jurisdiction to embrace such a law, following California and New Jersey in 2013. Both laws have been upheld by federal courts after right-wing groups claimed the laws restricted the rights of medical professionals.
The D.C. legislation, called the Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Act of 2014, allows for "discipline and penalties" to be imposed on mental health care providers licensed by the city if they are found to be engaging in efforts to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender expression, reports the Blade. Outgoing mayor Vincent Gray has promised to sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.
"Ex-gay therapy," sometimes called "reparative therapy" or "sexual orientation change efforts" by its proponents, has been condemned by every major medical and psychological organization in the country as harmful and ineffective. "There has been no scientifically adequate research that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation … is safe or effective," notes the American Psychological Association.
The Blade also reports that the D.C. City Council Tuesday voted to effectively repeal a 1989 amendment to the city's Human Rights Act that allowed religiously based educational institutions to refuse to recognize LGBT student groups.
The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 would repeal a provision of the city's Human Rights Act known as the Armstrong Amendment, named after the Colorado senator who tacked the so-called religious exemption onto the District's annual appropriations bill. The Armstrong Amendment sought to override a ruling from the D.C. Court of Appeals that "required Georgetown University to provide the same rights and benefits to a gay student group that it offered to all other student groups," according to the Blade.
Providing the mayor signs both laws, they will take effect after a mandated 30-day congressional review period, during which Congress can intervene to amend or halt implementation of the measures.