South Carolina Republicans seek to overturn city of Columbia ban on conversion therapy

South Carolina State Senator Josh Kimbrell – Photo: Facebook.

Republicans in the South Carolina Senate opposed an ordinance passed by Columbia City Council earlier this month that bans the practice of conversion therapy on minors, promising to introduce their own legislation to overturn it. ‘prohibition.

City council approved the ordinance by a narrow 4-to-3 vote on June 15, joining 20 states and several dozen local governments across the United States that have banned the practice of attempting to change sexual orientation or the gender identity of LGBTQ youth. Licensed therapists and counselors who violate the order will be fined $ 500.

Columbia is the first city in South Carolina to ban conversion therapy to minors. But Republicans in the state legislature have claimed the ordinance violates the civil rights of practitioners, especially faith-based counselors, who may engage in conversion therapy outside of their usual practice, in accordance with their beliefs. religious, and fear that they will eventually be forced to give up their license.

“It’s a response to oppression,” said Senator Josh Kimbrell (R-Spartanburg), the sponsor of the bill to reverse the ordinance and allow conversion therapy to continue, on June 21, to a medical affairs subcommittee. “It’s not an attack on anyone, it’s defending an attack on people for what they believe. The South Carolina Senate didn’t fire the first shot here.

The subcommittee has delayed action on Kimbrell’s bill, but the measure has the backing of President Shane Martin (R-Pauline), who has vowed to hold additional meetings this summer to review the legislation, according to the Post and courier.

Kimbrell previously asked Attorney General Alan Wilson in May to step in and prevent Columbia City Council from passing the proposed ordinance before the June 15 vote. He and his Republican colleagues in the South Carolina Senate called the order a violation of the First Amendment rights of therapists, patients who wish to rid themselves of “same-sex attraction” or gender dysphoria, and the rights of parents who wish to change their sexual orientation or gender identity of children.

“It’s unconstitutional for a city to fit in trying to prescribe what can and cannot be practiced in the medical field,” Kimbrell said. “It’s already a pretty mind-boggling overshoot for the city to try and even ban a category of therapy.”

He said the legislature must step in to prevent licensed therapists and counselors from being “forced to choose between their principles or a paycheck.”

See also: North Dakota approves rule prohibiting social workers from undergoing conversion therapy

Many of the arguments used by supporters of the bill echo those made by North Carolina lawmakers in 2016 after the city of Charlotte passed an LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance that allowed transgender people access to toilets consistent with their gender identity. As a result, North Carolina passed the controversial HB 2 Act, or “Toilet Bill” restricting this ability. The passage of the law sparked a huge economic and social backlash against Tar Heel State for interfering with what some critics saw as a local issue.

Critics of the South Carolina bill say Republicans are overreacting and intentionally distorting what the ordinance does, simply because of their opposition to recognizing that being LGBTQ is a valid identity.

Columbia City Councilor Tamieka Isaac Devine said the order is meant to protect people undergoing conversion therapy from harm and that she is more concerned about its impact on recipients than practitioners.

Most major medical and mental health organizations have condemned conversion therapy as not only ineffective in achieving what it is supposed to do – changing a person’s LGBTQ identity – but harming those who are subjected to it, leading to an increased risk of depression, isolation and suicidal ideation.

Columbia City Councilor Howard Duvall added that the ordinance does not mention religion and will not prevent any pastor from having conversations with his congregants that match their religious beliefs about homosexuality, The Associated Press reports. .

“Most pastors in South Carolina are not licensed practitioners,” Duvall said. “The practice of conversion therapy has proven to be a terrible practice for young adults. “

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