Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has approved an
ordinance that bans therapies that attempt to alter the sexual
orientation or gender identity of gay, lesbian, bisexual or
Such therapies go by names such as
“conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay
Bethlehem City Council voted in favor
of the measure at Tuesday's meeting.
The ordinance was proposed by
Councilman Bryan Callahan.
“For people to force them to go
through some type of mental brainwashing … that if they really
concentrate, they can change … it's bizarre,” Callahan told The
Morning Call earlier this month.
According to the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, Bethlehem is the
eighth Pennsylvania locality to approve such a measure. Others
include Reading, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Doylestown,
State College and Yardley Borough.
Allison Van Kuiken, state director of
HRC Pennsylvania, applauded passage.
“No child should be put through the
dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy which doesn’t
work, and is tantamount to child abuse,” said Van Kuiken. “That’s
why this abusive practice has been condemned by every major medical
and mental health organization, and why 14 states and Washington,
D.C. have enacted laws or regulations to protect LGBTQ minors. We
applaud the Bethlehem City Council and organizations like the
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and Valley Youth House who
made this possible, and remain committed to working with our partners
in Pennsylvania and across the nation to ensure that young people are
protected from this junk science in every jurisdiction.”