New York City Is Ending a Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy. Here’s Why.


Nearly two years ago, the New York City Council celebrated when it passed a far-reaching ban on conversion therapy, a discredited practice to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

On Thursday, Corey Johnson, the Council speaker, who is gay, said the Council would act swiftly to repeal the ban.

The move is a gambit designed to neutralize a federal lawsuit filed against the city by a conservative Christian legal organization; if the case were to be heard by the Supreme Court, advocates for the L.G.B.T. community fear that the panel could issue a ruling that could severely damage attempts to ban or curtail conversion therapy.

This is not the first time New York City officials have sought to change a regulation to avoid a Supreme Court challenge. In July, the Police Department amended a regulation that had limited residents from transporting guns outside their homes, after the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a case challenging the city rule.

Supporters of repealing the conversion therapy ban say that it is a regrettable but necessary step given the Supreme Court’s conservative makeup under the Trump administration.

“Obviously I didn’t want to repeal this. I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right-wing groups,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview. “But the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, has become more conservative.”

Mr. Johnson introduced a bill on Thursday to repeal the ban; once the full Council approves the measure and Mayor Bill de Blasio signs it, the city would then be governed by a less restrictive state law, which applies only to minors.

A vote could come by the end of the month, after a hearing, council officials said.

“We think this is the most responsible, prudent course,” Mr. Johnson said.


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