A Florida judge has rejected a Tampa ordinance aiming to ban traumatising conversion therapy for minors, claiming that it would limit parental rights over their child’s healthcare.
Medical experts consider interventions to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity to be pseudo-scientific, ineffective and harmful.
The ordinance would have blocked professionals from providing ‘therapy’ to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of young people, but it was challenged by marriage and family therapist, Robert Vazzo, and Christian ministry New Hearts Outreach.
US district judge William Jung sided with Vazzo and New Hearts Outreach, and wrote in his decision that a conversion therapy ban would negatively impact “Florida privacy rights and rights to parental choice in healthcare”.
He added: “Nothing is more intimate, more private, and more sensitive, than a growing young man or woman talking to a mental health therapist about sex, gender, preferences, and conflicting feelings.”
Vazzo has previously denied that conversion therapy is harmful, and in an interview with Voices of the Silenced, he previously said: “I view homosexuality as a type of fetish where the object happens to be human.
“The first thing I do of course is take a history, and then what I look for is where is the wound. Where we find the eroticisation we also find a wound… Typically we find [traumas].
“The client himself might not be able to identify the trauma because it is buried and it’s unconscious, but we have many tools to bring those traumas to the surface.
“There’s no witch hunt, the trauma is there. It’s hidden, but there are symbols of it. In the case of homosexuality… it could be an overt complaint about a father who wasn’t there, about being bullied.”
New Hearts Outreach offers “one-on-one discipleship and healing prayer, weekly confidential support groups with accountability, and referral to licensed Christian counselling” to “heal” people of homosexuality.
Its motto is: “Glorifying God by connecting the sexually and relationally challenged to Jesus Christ.”
Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, which is a designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT+ hate group, said in a statement: “This is a great victory for counsellors and clients… This ruling dooms every municipality in Florida and is the beginning of the end of more than 50 similar local laws around the country.”
A study earlier this year showed that one fifth of UK conversion therapy survivors had attempted suicide, and another study last month showed that exposing trans people to the harmful practice “doubled the odds of a suicide attempt”.