Akron Mayor Delays Vote on Criminalizing Conversion Therapy for Minors

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik's administration delays voting on an amendment to criminalize conversion therapy on minors, seeking feedback from LGBTQ+ organizations. The amendment aims to add penalties, including up to 6 months in prison and a $1,500 fine, to the existing 2022 ordinance.

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Akron Mayor Delays Vote on Criminalizing Conversion Therapy for Minors

Akron Mayor Delays Vote on Criminalizing Conversion Therapy for Minors

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik's administration has delayed voting on an amendment to criminalize conversion therapy on minors, seeking feedback from LGBTQ+ organizations. The amendment aims to add penalties, including up to 6 months in prison and a $1,500 fine, to the existing 2022 ordinance that made conversion therapy on minors illegal.

Why this matters: This decision has significant implications for the LGBTQ+ community, as conversion therapy has been widely condemned by medical and psychological associations for its harmful and unethical practices. By criminalizing conversion therapy, Akron is taking a crucial step towards protecting the rights and well-being of its LGBTQ+ citizens, and setting a precedent for other cities to follow.

The original ordinance has no enforcement mechanism, and the amendment seeks to classify conversion therapy as a first-degree misdemeanor. The Akron Civil Rights Commission would have the authority to investigate and consider complaints, and establish rules and procedures to receive, initiate, investigate, and issue orders and penalties against complaints of violations.

The practice of conversion therapy has been condemned by several medical and psychological associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, and the American Medical Association. Conversion therapy practitioners often use aversive conditioning techniques, which are considered a violation of ethical codes.

City spokeswoman Stephanie Marsh stated, "We have placed the legislation back in the (City Council) committee to provide the administration additional time to connect with various invested LGBTQ+ organizations and hear their feedback on the proposed change in enforcement."

The City Council had planned to vote on adopting the amendment at Monday night's meeting but delayed the vote at Mayor Malik's request. Mayor Malik's chief strategy officer, Nanette Pitt, stated that the requested additional time will allow city officials to interact with public groups and discuss the legislation further. Community groups interested in the legislation emailed City Council President Margo Sommerville and Nanette Pitt earlier in the day, prompting the delay.

The Akron Civil Rights Commission would play a key role in enforcing the proposed penalties for conversion therapy practitioners if the amendment is passed. However, the commission has not received any complaints about conversion therapy to date, according to Chairperson Ellen Lander Nischt. The administration's decision to delay the vote and seek further input from LGBTQ+ organizations underscores the importance of engaging stakeholders in the legislative process surrounding this sensitive issue.

Key Takeaways

  • Akron delays vote on amendment to criminalize conversion therapy on minors.
  • Amendment seeks to add up to 6 months in prison and $1,500 fine for violators.
  • Conversion therapy is widely condemned by medical and psychological associations.
  • Akron Civil Rights Commission would investigate and enforce penalties.
  • Delay allows for feedback from LGBTQ+ organizations and community groups.