The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday
approved an ordinance that bans therapies that attempt to alter the
sexual orientation or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender youth, making Milwaukee the first municipality in
Wisconsin to do so.
Such therapies go by names such as
“conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay
According to the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel, Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is expected
to sign the ban.
The legislation was sponsored by
Alderman Chevalier Johnson. At Tuesday's emotional meeting, Johnson
called such therapies ineffective and said that the ban was needed to
“Kids end up committing suicide
because of the practice of conversion therapy being inflicted upon
them,” he said. “This is about protecting kids.”
One opponent of the ban yelled, “It's
the devil. It's about evil,” as Johnson spoke.
The measure cleared the chamber with a
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, cheered the vote.
“No child should be subjected to the
abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy, which has been
rejected by every major medical and mental health organization,”
HRC Wisconsin State Manager Wendy Strout said in a statement. “We
thank the Milwaukee Common Council and the team at the Milwaukee LGBT
Center for putting the well-being and safety of our children first,
and hope their leadership can be an example to cities across the
Similar bans have been approved in 11
states – Connecticut, Washington, California, Nevada, New Jersey,
Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island and New Mexico –
and the District of Columbia. Similar bills have been introduced
this legislative session in New Hampshire, Maryland and Virginia. An
increasing number of local municipalities have also enacted similar
protections, particularly in Florida.