A federal court on Friday struck down
Tampa's ban on therapies that attempt to alter the sexual orientation
or gender identity of LGBT minors.
Such therapies go by names such as
“conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “sexual
orientation change efforts” or “ex-gay therapy.”
The Tampa City Council approved the ban
in 2017. Therapists and counselors who violate the law face a $1,000
fine for a first offense.
The lawsuit was filed by the Christian
conservative law group Liberty Counsel on behalf of two therapists.
The therapists argue that the ban is unconstitutional because it
violates their First Amendment rights.
Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida's
director of public policy, criticized the ruling in a statement.
“This is a harmful decision that puts
some of our most vulnerable young people at risk,” Maurer said.
“The decision for Tampa stands completely alone in its reasoning.
Regardless of this decision, experts agree that conversion therapy is
a dangerous and sometimes deadly practice, and we know it is still
routinely practiced on children and teens in Florida. We support the
City of Tampa’s leadership in protecting minors, and the Florida
Legislature can and should also act immediately to protect children
from this fraudulent practice.”
Maurer added: “Today's decision
doesn't change the fact that this archaic, traumatizing, and
fraudulent practice needs to be ended forever. Our local governments
are acting where our state legislature has failed to protect young
Floridians being subjected to conversion therapy.”
Eighteen states plus numerous local
governments, including 20 cities in Florida, have enacted similar
The Supreme Court has refused to hear
challenges to similar laws in New Jersey and California. Liberty
Counsel was involved in both of those lawsuits.