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Columbus Council Explores Ban On Conversion Therapy

Columbus City Council holds a public hearing Tuesday on banning the practice known as conversion therapy by community and mental health professionals. Conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, but has been widely discredited by the medical community.

Council holds the meeting Thursday at 4:30 p.m. inside council chambers in City Hall.

Conversion therapy has been embraced by some faith-based groups, including Focus on the Family. It's been denounced by medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

City Council president Zach Klein says his bill is constitutional because it only applies to mental health professionals, not religious practices.

Klein does not know how widespread the practice is in Columbus, but says he's spoken with friends and constituents who've been exposed to "the harmful therapy."

Klein says Toledo, Cincinnati and Cleveland have similar bans on conversion therapy by mental health professionals.

The proposed city legislation would make the conversion therapy a misdemeanor with the possibility of fines and jail time.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.