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Minneapolis City Council Bans Conversion Therapy

Phillipe Cunningham

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously banned so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

The ordinance, which was co-authored by Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, will be the first of its kind in Minnesota as soon as Mayor Jacob Frey signs it, the Star Tribune reported Friday

“Conversion therapy, which is actually conversion abuse, is a blight on our country,” Cunningham said in a statement, as reported by the Star Tribune. “It is tantamount to torture.” 

“I believe that we should continue to push for this change at a state level," Cunninham said. "But also believe that where there is opportunity for us to save lives, we must.”

Cunningham, who was the first out trans man of color to be elected to U.S. office, says he faced conversion therapy in church as a child and doesn’t want anyone else to have the same experience. 

"It tries to convince people," Cunningham told the local NBC affiliate, "that they are not who they are."

The ordinance defines “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. “

The ban does not include members of the clergy “who are acting in their roles as clergy or pastoral counselors and providing religious counseling to congregants.” 

Those found in violation of the ban will face a fine of $500, which will increase to $1,000 if the offense is repeated.

A growing number of cities and states have moved to ban conversion therapy for minors in recent years. But the bans have faced opposition: A judge recently overturned one in Tampa, Fla., saying that he wasn’t convinced conversion talk therapy is harmful.

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by multiple medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Psychological Association. It has been shown to worsen suicidal ideation among LGBTQ kids and teens. 

And just this week, the American Medical Association said it would support bans on the practice for both children and adults.

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