Federal appeals court: laws to ban ‘conversion therapy’ violate free-speech protections

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Judge Britt Grant

It must be allowable to try to convince people they are not homosexual, a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled, simply because it’s also allowable to convince people that they are.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a federal appeals court in Atlanta has thrown out bans that prevented therapists from performing “conversion therapy” on young people who are unsure about their sexual orientation and “gender identity.”

In a 2-1 decision, the court struck down bans on the therapy that were imposed in both Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, Fla. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling sets precedent for Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

In Georgia, six Democratic lawmakers eager to limit speech last year introduced the Youth Mental Health Protection Act to ban conversion therapy statewide, but the bill stalled. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also got the City Council to pass a resolution last year stating the city’s opposition to the practice. It also called for a statewide ban.

The bans in Florida were challenged by a pair of licensed therapists who work with minors with “unwanted same-sex attractions or unwanted gender identity issues,” said the 11th Circuit’s ruling, issued Nov. 20. The therapists believe their speech-based therapy helps clients overcome homosexual urges.

Judge Britt Grant, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote for the majority: “This decision allows speech that many find concerning — even dangerous.

“But consider the alternative. If the speech restrictions in these ordinances can stand, then so can their inverse. Local communities could prevent therapists from validating a client’s same-sex attractions if the City Council deemed that message harmful.”

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