City leaders in Charleston, West
Virginia on Monday approved an ordinance that prohibits the practice
of conversion therapy on minors in the city.
Conversion therapy, also known as
“ex-gay” therapy, sexual orientation change efforts, or
reparative therapy, attempts to alter the sexual orientation or
gender identity of people who identify as LGBT.
The ordinance, approved with a 14-9
vote, makes Charleston the first municipality in West Virginia to
enact such a ban.
Violators face up to a $1,000 fine.
The bill was sponsored by Councilwoman
Caitlin Cook, who said coming out to her family was the “most
terrifying thing” she has ever done.
“I am lucky and I am blessed to have
a family that is accepting and wouldn't want to change me for the
said, adding that many children are not so lucky.
Dr. Neil Copeland, a pediatrician, told
council before they voted that such therapies have negative effects
on a minor.
Religious institutions are exempt from
the ordinance provided they are not acting in the capacity of a
medical or mental health professional.
Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin voted for the
Twenty states plus the District of
Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have enacted similar
laws. Michigan and Minnesota have limited bans through executive