Palm Beach County Bans Conversion Therapy Despite Attorney’s Warning

| December 20, 2017

Barely two weeks before the end of 2017, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has announced their success in getting conversion therapy for minors banned for all of Palm Beach County – the first county in the State of Florida to do so. The decision follows earlier decisions by eight cities within the county to ban the controversial practice. Tampa has also approved a conversion therapy ban and has been sued, which prompted the Palm Beach County Attorney to urge the board not to take action on the measure.

PBCHRC shared the following article by Wayne Washington – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer:
WEST PALM BEACH -Palm Beach County on Tuesday became the first county in Florida to ban the controversial practice of conversion therapy for minors, setting up a potential legal battle with those who see the move as an illegal infringement of their freedom of religion and speech.  

Eight cities within the county, including Wellington, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, have already approved similar bans. Tampa has also approved a conversion therapy ban and has since been sued, a move that prompted caution from Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Nieman.
“I would strongly recommend that the board not take action on this,” she said as Tuesday’s meeting got underway.
Commissioners don’t often reject the advice of their long-time county attorney, but on this they did, voting 5-2 for the ban, which applies to unincorporated parts of the county and all municipalities that have not already adopted their own ban.
Commissioners Steven Abrams and Hal Valeche voted against the ban, after they both voted for a motion to delay the vote until after the Tampa case was decided. That motion, offered by Abrams, failed 5-2.

“I’m mindful of the county attorney’s admonition,” Abrams said. “We should wait until the Tampa case is resolved.”
Valeche shared the free speech concerns of opponents of the ban and questioned whether therapists are actually attempting to change people’s sexual orientation.
“Is this just something people think happens, but it actually doesn’t?” he asked.
Rand Hoch, who backed the ban as president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said his organization knows of two children who have reported that their parents have forced them to undergo conversion therapy.
 Judging from the numerous people who spoke against the ban, Hoch said he suspects that conversion therapy is practiced more widely than is known and that the choice for commissioners was simple.



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