The New York City Council is seeking to repeal a citywide counseling ban out of concern that the ban would not survive the Supreme Court and would impact similar counseling bans across the United States.
In 2017, the Council passed an ordinance which prohibits counseling to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion, for a fee. The citywide ordinance is unprecedented in that it applies to adults who are voluntarily seeking counsel. The constitutionality of the ban is being challenged by a lawsuit. If the challenge reaches the Supreme Court, the City Council fears an “unfavorable outcome” for the counseling ban that could block similar laws across the country. The State of New York has a counseling ban that applies to minors only, to which New York City will remain bound even if the city’s broader counseling ban is repealed.
Liberty Counsel is currently challenging counseling bans in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, and California. In Tampa, FL, Liberty Counsel is awaiting a decision on a motion for summary judgement asking a federal court to permanently block the City of Tampa’s counseling ban which violates the First Amendment by prohibiting licensed counselors from providing talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity. Like the New York City ordinance, the Tampa ordinance imposes significant monetary fines on counselors who provide this voluntary counseling.
“Repealing the New York City counseling ban ordinance is a step in the right direction. It’s only a matter of time, however, before one of these counseling bans is struck down before the Supreme Court,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The law is a gross intrusion into the fundamental rights of counselors and clients. Every person should have access to the counselor of his or her choice. No government has the authority to prohibit a form of counseling simply because it does not like the religious or moral beliefs of a particular counselor or client,” said Staver.