City Council To Strategically Surrender Same-Sex Counseling Ban

Something unusual is happening in New York City: Advocates who successfully pushed for the passage of a 2017 city law are now seeking to get that same law repealed.

In 2017, New York City passed a ban on various forms of sexual orientation change efforts. That law was even more outrageous and draconian than the statewide Counselor Coercion Law that was passed earlier this year. While the Counselor Coercion Law only affects licensed mental health professionals, New York City’s legislation bars any person from receiving compensation for helping someone to diminish or resolve unwanted same-sex attraction. Significantly, while the Counselor Coercion Law banned sexual orientation change efforts with minor clients, the New York City legislation affects sexual orientation change efforts with both adults and youths.

Last week, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson introduced a bill that would repeal the New York City ban on sexual orientation change efforts. Speaker Johnson has not had a change of heart on the issue; rather, LGBT activists have urged the law’s repeal because they are concerned that the law may be thrown out in a court case filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Activists accurately pointed out that federal courts are becoming more conservative under President Donald Trump and feared that a negative court decision could jeopardize other, similar laws across the country. As Roger Brooks of ADF put it, “‘Our view is the law presents a textbook [case] of censorship. They’re afraid the law would be held unconstitutional.’” It is expected that the repeal measure will pass.

Speaker Johnson, LGBT activist Matthew Shurka, and others claim that this move is not really a setback for their movement. According to Speaker Johnson, the Counselor Coercion Law makes the New York City law “redundant.” This claim is false, as the New York City law goes much, much further than the Counselor Coercion Law does. The truth is this: The repeal of the New York City bill will be a significant setback for LGBT advocates, and it will help keep change therapy available.

Many thanks to ADF for their efforts in bringing about this outcome.