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The New York City Council could soon repeal a ban on conversion therapy to avoid a lawsuit with potential national ramifications.
Council members moved to repeal the 2017 law following a lawsuit by the anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom, reports the New York Daily News. Speaker Corey Johnson, one of the city's most prominent out leaders, will introduce a bill today to overturn the ban.
"This was a painful decision that was made after leading LGBTQ advocates requested that the council take this drastic step," Johnson said.
"The sad reality is 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 said he still feels conversion therapy, which aims to "cure" LGBTQ individuals of their sexual orientation or gender identity, hurts individuals and should not be practiced.
"To be clear, all of us still believe this alleged 'therapy' is barbaric and inhumane, but repealing this law seemed to be the best path forward," Johnson said.
The city ban had paved the way for the harmful practice to be banned statewide. New York State lawmakers only this year passed a ban that covers all New Yorkers.
In that sense, the city ordinance now is legally redundant, and Johnson said youth will still be protected by the new state statute. But the city law provided broader, more sweeping protections.
Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group that has long argued for so-called religious freedom laws allowing businesses greater power to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, categorized the city move as a victory.
"Our view is the law presents a textbook cases of censorship," Roger Brooks, counsel for the ADF, told the Daily News.
"They're afraid the law would be held unconstitutional."