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Credit: Vanessa Weir

The Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Public Health and Human Services just passed a bill that will prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on LBGTQ minors in the city. Once the bill is placed into effect, mental health providers in Philly cannot try to change the gender orientation or sexual identity of clients below the age of 18. 

The bill, which was passed by a unanimous vote, was first introduced by 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla last December.

Philadelphia will be the 18th city to ban conversion therapy, and the second in Pennsylvania — Pittsburgh banned the practice in December 2016. 

The bill defines conversion therapy as “any practice by a Mental Health Provider that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

LGTBQ activists and various mental health experts have called for the practice to end. In 2015, President Obama also called for a nation-wide end to conversion therapy. 

On a state level, Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims has been leading legislation against conversion therapy for minors in the House and Senate. So far, nine states have outlawed the practice, including New York and neighboring New Jersey.

“For longer than I have been alive, the American Medical Association has declared that homosexuality is not a medical condition that needs to be cured," Sims said in a conference this January. "There are people claiming to practice conversion therapy as some form of science or medicine and it is neither. We are seeing children abused all across the commonwealth because of conversion therapy." 

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