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Gay conversion therapy could be banned in Seattle

Pride flag Seattle LGBTQ
Flickr Photo/Cloganese (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/

The American Medical Association opposes "gay conversion therapy" — counselors who offer conversion therapy aim to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Now, Seattle's City Council wants an outright ban on conversion therapy for minors.

City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez said it's not effective, and that LGBT youth deserve support as they're coming out. She has sponsored an ordinance to fine counselors up to $1,000 if they practice conversion therapy with minors.

Seattle transgender-rights leader Danni Askiniis commending the measure. Askini said she went through conversion therapy.

Askini: "These harmful and discredited and unscientific practices damage the mental health and well-being of young people to feel affirmed, safe and connected to medical mental health providers who they should be able to rely upon."

She said LGBT youth not supported by family are at higher risk of running away or attempting suicide.

But not everyone thinks conversion therapy should be banned. Mental health counselor Alex Myrick told the council conversion therapy is not torture like it's sometimes described.

Myrick: "We're talking about a willing participant and a willing clinician."

A council committee has approved Gonzalez' measure to ban conversion therapy, and the full council is expected to take it up on August 1.

A similar statewide effort failed last year. A handful of places already prohibit the practice, including California, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati.