The Atlanta City Council is taking a strong stance against conversion therapy, the controversial practice of making gay individuals straight.
“Conversion therapy has been proven to be a false medical practice that is harmful to the patients it claims to help,” Post 1 at-large Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who introduced a resolution condemning the practice, said in a news release. “We should be encouraging individuals, families and communities to embrace people for who they are. We encourage the state to join us in disallowing conversion therapy. By not doing so, it becomes a tacit endorsement of prejudice towards the LGBTQ community. Atlanta has taken the position of love, acceptance and tolerance, and we invite the state of Georgia to do the same.”
At its meeting April 15 at City Hall, the council voted unanimously to approve the resolution, which is nonbinding. In a news release, several council members spoke out against the practice of conversion therapy. The resolution urges state leaders to ban the controversial practice, which medical experts say increases the risk of suicide, substance abuse, depression and anxiety.
“Conversion therapy is an unacceptable, pseudoscientific practice with no evidence exhibiting it is helpful. On the contrary, many studies, including those by renowned health organizations, have shown it is physically and mentally harmful. I feel strongly that it has no place in the city of Atlanta or our state,” District 9 Councilman Dustin Hillis said.
Post 2 at-large Councilman Matt Westmoreland said, “Conversion therapy is an absolutely shameful practice that has no place in Atlanta or in our society. What our LGBTQ neighbors deserve, especially our youth, is our love and support.”
In other news, the council approved:
♦ A resolution expanding the Atlanta Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust to include an additional member who is a former or current legislator in the Georgia General Assembly (Legislative Reference No. 19-R-3379). According to the legislation, the mayor must make the appointment. Created by the council in February, the task force will evaluate the effectiveness of the city’s current legislative and administrative policies and procedures related to ethics, transparency and compliance.
♦ A resolution supporting the Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond/TSPLOST program’s prioritized project list (Legislative Reference No. 19-R-3445).
♦ An ordinance authorizing the mayor or her designee to accept a donation of an easement from Clark Atlanta University to install a historic marker on the campus commemorating the Atlanta Student Movement (Legislative Reference No. 19-O-1118).
Also, Westmoreland introduced an ordinance to prohibit smoking at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, all city facilities and other specified public places to protect against exposure to secondhand smoke. His legislation was dually referred to the council’s public safety & legal administration and transportation committees, which will meet April 23 and 24, respectively.