Commission to recommend conversion therapy ban to council

·2 min read

May 25—NORMAN — The Norman Human Rights Commission voted unanimously Monday to recommend that the Norman City Council prohibit any medical professional from participating in conversion therapy with a minor.

According to LGBTmap.org, there are currently no laws in Oklahoma prohibiting the dangerous practice of conversion therapy, which would make Norman the first city to do so. Legislation that would ban conversion therapy has been introduced at the state level during multiple legislative sessions, but has never been adopted as law.

"If any licensed medical provider operating within Norman city limits, engaged in conversion therapy with a minor, regardless of where they are from, as long as they're in city limits and they're engaging in conversion therapy with a minor, then they would be violating the city ordinance," commission chair Sage Mauldin said Monday.

Any person who violates the proposed ordinance would face a fine of $50 to $750 and/or 60 days in jail.

The ordinance would not apply to religious institutions that discourage LGBTQ+ minors from being who they are, but would only prohibit licensed medical professionals from participating in conversion therapy with a minor, Mauldin said.

The ordinance will allow the city to pursue other legal action against medical professionals who participate in conversion therapy with a minor, including but not limited to an injuction in court, the proposed ordinance reads.

This ban is different from what Norman currently has on the books. The current ordinance prohibits city funds from going to any medical professional who practices conversion therapy with a minor, the commissioners said.

The commission's proposed ordinance would be an outright ban and include punishments if adopted.

"[Originally] that only implicated medical providers who applied and received city funds," said Anthony Purinton, the assistant city attorney for Norman. "[Now], this is any provider within the City of Norman who practices this would be subject to the possibility of a fine if they are found guilty, or we could take other legal action if necessary. So the scope is larger and then there's the potential for that penalty."

The commission will recommend the ordinance to the city council, which will decide whether to put it on a future agenda and vote on it.

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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