EAST LANSING, Mich. — There's an effort underway in East Lansing to ban conversion therapy, a practice that tries to change a person's sexual orientation from gay to straight.
East Lansing City Council member Aaron Stephens has proposed an ordinance to ban this type of therapy that he says is damaging for those who have to go through it.
"Our city does not accept this and the state level should make this state wide so we don't have to take on and do their job for them," said Stephens.
The ban applies to "any attempt to change a person's sexual orientation."
Council member Stephens was inspired when the city of Huntington Woods near Royal Oak passed a similar ordinance in June.
Democrats in Lansing have been trying to make this a state law for years.
"It's important for me to take the action that apparently Republicans at the state level are too scared to do," said Stephens.
Stephens says he hasn't heard of anyone practicing conversion therapy in East Lansing.
He says this is a preventative measure.
"Just because my house hasn't been broken into doesn't mean I shouldn't have a law in place that says somebody can't break into my house."
The American Psychological Association says "no credible evidence exists" that conversion therapy can change sexual orientation.
Studies show it increases depression, anxiety, and the risk of suicide.
"It's seldom that a person is able to leave conversion therapy without any psychological or emotional damage," said Maxine Thome, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers in Michigan.
If the ordinance passes, residents would submit complaints to the city's Human Relations Commission for investigation.
That group would be in charge of enforcement.
The punishment would be a $500 fine.
"It's critical to support somebody's dignity and self worth and that's what NASW believes good therapy is about," said Thome.
The Human Relations Commission is looking at the ordinance to make recommendations.
East Lansing City Council members are expected to vote on it at their August meeting.
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