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Kenney moves to ban conversion therapy

Kenney moves to ban conversion therapy

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At a news conference today several legislators made a call for statewide legislation that would ban “conversion therapy” for minors.

In a joint effort with State Rep. Brian Sims, Mayor Kenney spoke with Dr. Gail Edelsohn, the newly-elected president of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, about the form of therapy known to allegedly transform a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to straight.

The effort to prevent this type of therapy in the city has a long history with Councilman Mark Squilla proposing a ban in Philadelphia for this type of therapy in December and State Sen. Anthony Williams introduced Senate Bill No. 45 in January 2015.

The bill prohibits "mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual under 18 years of age." A spokesperson for Williams said the bill will be reintroduced as Senate Bill No. 44 soon.

"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."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."

Sims, the first openly gay elected representative in Pennsylvania, introduced a similar piece of legislation, House Bill 1811, in 2013. Sims, along with Rep. Gerald Mullery, announced in March 2015 that they planned to reintroduce the bill in the future, citing that conversion therapy has harmful effects on those under the age of 18.

Kenney called conversion therapy a "gross violation of LGBT rights."

"I think it's extremely sad that we have to pass this legislation, but in these times of [conservativeness] we must be proactive," Kenney said.

In addition to their efforts to pass legislation to prevent conversion therapy in Philly, they also announced today that the Mazzoni Center, a prominent LGBT health and services center in the city, will be receiving $1.5 million for expansion. 

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