Pittsburgh council unanimously bans LGBTQ conversion therapy

Mayor Bill Peduto plans to sign the bill, according to a spokesperson.

Pittsburgh Pride parade

Pittsburgh Pride parade

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
Sarah Anne Hughes

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to ban conversion therapy of LGBTQ minors, joining several states and other cities in doing so.

The legislation was introduced by Council President Bruce Kraus and Councilmember Dan Gilman in response to the election of Donald Trump. The bill bars all mental health professionals within city limits from engaging “in sexual orientation or gender identity or expression conversion efforts with a minor.”

The practice can cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” in those who are subjected to it, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Kraus, the first openly gay member of council, has called it “soul murder.”

Mayor Bill Peduto plans to sign the bill, according to a spokesperson.

Council voted 8-0 during standing committee last week to advance the legislation, with Councilmember Darlene Harris abstaining over concerns about the legality of the ban. (She voted in favor of the legislation today.)

“I want to make sure if we implement this, it will hold up in court,” she said last week.

City Solicitor and Chief Legal Officer Lourdes Sánchez-Ridge told the councilmember she would review the legislation.

“I don’t think most of this council wants to wait for your legal opinion,” Harris responded.

After the bill was introduced, Kraus and Gilman told The Incline they had sought a legal opinion beforehand. Gilman said today that the council had received an opinion from the legal department that “confirmed” the bill’s legality. Kraus thanked him for his “due diligence.”

On the defense, Harris responded that she had “no problem voting for this piece of legislation.”

“When I attempted to ask for more information and a legal opinion,” she said, “… I was attacked as an obstructionist.”

“I will not put up with being attacked for making informed decisions,” Harris continued.