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Rochester city officials propose a ban on so-called "conversion therapy"

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Councilmember Mitch Gruber are proposing a ban on the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” within the city. Conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.

Warren said that, “this controversial practice has been debunked and is seen by health professionals as detrimental and unhealthy for LGBTQ youth.”

Gruber said that, “Conversion therapy is based on a false and ugly premise: that there is something with being LGBTQ.”

The legislation presented to  City Council adds language under the consumer protection section of the municipal code to prohibit “any services, offered or provided to consumers for a fee, that are intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or to change a person’s gender identity to conform to the sex of such individual that was recorded at birth.”

City officials say that the "practice known as conversion or reparative therapy has been rejected by most health practitioners as ineffective and harmful, leading to negative outcomes such as depression, anxiety, drug abuse and even suicide."

Officials say the proposed legislation dovetails with efforts at the state level to restrict conversion therapy, including regulations prohibiting Medicaid payments and barring state-regulated mental health facilities from using conversion therapy on minors.

New York City adopted similar legislation last year, and officials say  that state legislation is also pending to further protect minors statewide from the practice.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.