Editorial: Conversion therapy proposals pure politics
Conversion therapy is a grab bag of practices that utilize psychological, emotional, spiritual or physical techniques to try and remake someone who is gay or bisexual into a heterosexual. The practice also has been used on people identifying as transgender. Subjects are often minors.
So kudos to the Allegheny County Council members who have stepped forward with proposals to address it.
Pittsburgh City Council passed a ban two years ago. The county’s version was proposed by council President John DeFazio, D-Shaler, and council member Paul Klein, D-Point Breeze, in March.
But the council’s Republicans have now proposed their own ordinance that spelled out specifically prohibited actions — like electroshock, physical contact and any other physical pain to a minor — but not the idea of therapy that would counter a sexual identity.
It also softens who the restriction would limit. Medical professionals could not perform it. Religious practitioners could.
The problem with that is simple. It limits the restrictions to the people least likely to perform the therapy.
Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by medical doctors, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, and psychologists. Five states ban the practice outright.
But those who do offer it are largely religious in focus.
McKrae Game, who led a faith-based conversion therapy program in South Carolina for 20 years, came out in June, both announcing his homosexuality and saying that therapy he had done for decades is “not just a lie, but it’s very harmful,” as he told The Post and Courier.
There are certainly those who oppose homosexuality and other LGBTQ identification on religious grounds. They have that right under the First Amendment.
But writing legislation that governs the people who wouldn’t perform a procedure and removing the restrictions from people who would makes no sense. It is like writing a DUI law for people who don’t drive, or a very specific regulation for the keeping of unicorns within city limits.
And it also seems to be a large uproar for uproar’s sake.
Pittsburgh not only already has a conversion therapy ban, but it was the first in Pennsylvania — and has since been a model for others across the state.
The entire issue appears to be an opportunity for political posturing, with one side courting the left’s LGBTQ community and the other stumping for the religious right.
Both sides could do those communities — and the county as a whole — more good by focusing on protecting kids, not collecting votes.