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Anti-LGBT Group Sues Tampa for Banning Conversion Therapy

February 8th, 2018

The city of Tampa, Florida recently banned conversion therapy, but now an anti-LGBT group called Liberty Counsel is suing the city.

The city of Tampa, Florida recently banned conversion therapy, but now an anti-LGBT group called Liberty Counsel is suing the city.

An anti-LGBT group called Liberty Counsel recently initiated a legal action against the city of Tampa, Florida for banning conversion therapy. This legal action comes after the Tampa City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 2017-47 which prohibits any type of counseling procedure or process that has the goal of changing a person’s gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Violations of this law result in a person facing a fine of $5,000. While the law applies to licensed therapists, religious leaders and average citizens are still able to practice this discredited and dangerous treatment.

Arguments Against the Ban

The Liberty Counsel argues that the city of Tampa’s decision to prohibit conversion therapy is a violation of the First Amendment because it represents interference with the relationship between a client and counselor. The Liberty Counsel also argues that the law violates the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which allows a counselor to provide clients with treatment options that are believed to be in the patient’s best interest. Additionally, Liberty Counsel argues that the state of Florida is the only entity permitted to regulate health providers in the state and that Tampa is acting without the proper authority to do so.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has characterized the Liberty Counsel as an extremist group that claims it is protecting religious freedom when it is actually pushing for anti-LGBT discrimination.

Arguments in Support of the Ban

Conversion therapy has been discredited by every medical association in the United States. Some studies have even linked conversion therapy to anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies. In deciding how to vote on the ban, the council heard dozens of stories by people who had been traumatized by receiving conversion therapy.

Numerous professional agencies have taken stances against the use of conversion therapy. The American Psychological Association notes that same sex attraction is a normal and positive part of some people’s sexual identity, that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, that insufficient evidence exists to support the use of conversion therapy as a measure to change sexual orientation, and that mental health professionals should avoid misrepresenting the effectiveness of conversion therapy.

The Future of the Case

2017 was a significant year for cases involving conversion therapy and Tampa is just one of many cities and states that have prohibited it. Rhode Island became the 10th state to outlaw the practice last July, and Connecticut also recently passed prohibitions on it. However, there are not yet any federal laws prohibiting conversion therapy or restricting how the practice is used. The Universal Life Church’s blog is focused on following the development of not just conversion therapy but all of the important rights associated with the development of LGBT rights.

(image courtesy of Yannis Papanastasopoulos)

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