Appellate Court strikes down conversion therapy bans in South Florida

An appellate court tossed out conversion therapy bans in Palm Beach County and Boca Raton.

Both local governments passed laws prohibiting therapists from offering counseling for LGBTQ youth to help suppress unwanted sexual attraction or confusion about their gender identify. Local therapists Robert Otto and Judy Hamilton challenged the laws on First Amendment grounds, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

A three-judge panel at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision ruled the ordinances were “content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny.”

LGBTQ groups quickly condemned the ruling.

“Every person in this country should be concerned by federal courts ignoring science and striking down laws that protect vulnerable young people from dangerous and unethical practices by licensed mental health providers,” said Mathew Shurka, a spokesperson for Born Perfect and a conversion therapy survivor.

“Today’s decision showed a shocking disregard for the overwhelming medical consensus that conversion therapy is harmful and dangerous, and that no young person should ever be subjected to this practice under any circumstances. We will continue to push for these laws and to help cities and states defend them when they are challenged.”

The ruling applies to ordinances

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