NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The City of Norman is taking a big step by banning conversion therapy, which is the controversial practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation. Now the question is, how will they enforce that ban?
Despite many failed attempts at the state level, last night the Norman City Council passed an outright ban on the controversial therapy, but some don’t think it will stand up in court.
There were passionate arguments from both sides as Norman held a special City Council meeting Tuesday and unanimously passed an ordinance to ban conversion therapy.
“It protects queer youth, LGBT youth from licensed mental health and medical providers from any attempts to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” said Sage Mauldin, Chair of the City of Norman Human Rights Commission.
The measure goes beyond just preventing city funds being spent on the therapy, it fines licensed therapist that engage in the therapy with the possibility to strip them of their right to practice.
LGBTQ leaders say numerous national health organizations have called it a “pseudo-science” that can be dangerous to the patients.
“I’ve known people that have been in that situation where they have considered suicide because they attended conversion therapy,” said Michael Robertson, LGBTQ Liaison for the City of Norman.
But how popular is the therapy in Norman? Norman Pride officials say they conducted a survey of 10 mental health organization in the city. They say six “either practice condone or don’t explicitly condemn” conversion therapy. But when asked for a list of the offices surveyed, Norman Pride officials declined to release the information.
“They are licensed by the state. They are competent and all they want to have is the freedom of speech to have these conversations with minors to explore these things,” said Norman City Council-Elect Rarchar Tortorello.
Some opponents of the ban say it could cost the city big bucks in legal fees.
“This has nothing to do with city business. It opens us up to lawsuits if it’s challenged in court,” said Tortorello.
But Norman, city officials say they have explored all the legal possibilities and feel confident they are acting in the best interest of public safety.