Richmond City Council condemns use of conversion therapy

By Keya Vakil

September 10, 2019

The Richmond City Council condemned the use of “conversion therapy” in the city on Monday, adopting a resolution first proposed by Mayor Levar Stoney.

The council unanimously voted to approve the nonbinding resolution banning the dangerous and long-discredited practice, which involves trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression.

The controversial practice has caused significant damage to LGBTQ individuals’ mental health, and many victims of conversion therapy have later found themselves experiencing drug addiction, homelessness, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Mayor Stoney was quick to praise the council’s resolution.

Critics of conversion therapy also took to social media to celebrate the council’s decision. 

Tuesday’s vote comes after three state boards charged with regulating mental health professionals, including the Virginia Board of Psychology, banned conversion therapy earlier this year. Regardless of these decisions, the practice will technically remain legal in Virginia until the General Assembly outlaws it.

State Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) introduced a bill in 2018 that would have banned the practice in the Commonwealth, but Republicans opposed Surovell’s legislation and it died in Committee on a party-line vote. 

Surovell recently reiterated his goal of banning conversion therapy in Virginia, making it clear that if Democrats gain control of the General Assembly, ending the practice will be one of his priorities. 

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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