For years, LGBT activists have worked to marginalize, silence, and punish anyone who dares to suggest that sexual orientation change is possible. Recently, their efforts have succeeded in one forum and have failed miserably in another.
On July 10, 2020, Facebook and Instagram announced that they would “ban any content that promotes conversion therapy.” While this decision is offensive on multiple levels, it is not illegal; the First Amendment prohibits government—not businesses—from “abridging free speech.” The move is, however, a major setback for Christian organizations that assist persons seeking to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction, as those organizations will not be able to communicate with current or potential participants via these two major social media networks. In response, the Restored Hope Network—a Christian “inter-denominational network dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, especially those impacted by homosexuality”—has issued a call to action, asking its friends and allies to urge Facebook and Instagram to reverse course.
The news out of New York City is better. On July 14, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) reported that it had reached a settlement with the City of New York in Schwartz v. City of New York. The case was a constitutional challenge to a 2018 New York City ordinance that made it illegal “for any person to provide services for a fee that ‘seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or seek to change a person’s gender identity to conform to the sex of such individual that was recorded at birth.’” Violations were punishable by fines of up to $10,000. ADF filed suit on behalf of Dr. Dovid Schwartz, an Orthodox Jewish psychotherapist with 50 years’ experience who has helped clients seeking to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction. Amazingly, the City backed off; the City Council repealed the unconstitutional ordinance in September 2019. Furthermore, the City has agreed to pay Dr. Schwartz $100,000 in attorney fees and nominal damages.