Miami Beach

Miami Beach says no more conversion therapy for youths under 18

The American flag, the City of Miami Beach flag and the rainbow flag fly at Miami Beach City Hall during Gay Pride Week.
The American flag, the City of Miami Beach flag and the rainbow flag fly at Miami Beach City Hall during Gay Pride Week.

Miami Beach on Wednesday voted to ban conversion therapy, the controversial practice where a medical professional tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The practice, also known as “reparative therapy,” has been denounced by several medical groups including the American Psychiatric Association, which has published a warning that “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.”

The city gave final approval to a prohibition on conversion therapy counseling, practices, and treatments by state licensed professionals to minors under the age of 18. This ban applies to medical practitioners, osteopathic practitioners, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and licensed counselors.

The ban passed unanimously with little discussion.

The ordinance gives the city the power to fine someone practicing conversion therapy $200 each day that person is cited.

Justin Klecha, an officer with the LGBT-rights group SAVE, said the the ban was “fantastic.”

“Miami Beach continues to stand out as a leader in LGBT rights,” he said.

The ban was sponsored by Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemàn after State Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, told the commission earlier this year that he knew of one doctor in the Beach who was practicing conversion therapy. He did not name the doctor at the time, and the Miami Herald could not identify the doctor Wednesday evening.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Alemàn said she was glad to take such a step in a place like the Beach, which is known for its acceptance of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

“I’m glad we’re challenging the old way of thinking,” she said.

Other cities and states that have passed a similar ban are Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., California, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

  Comments