Common-sense legislation banning gay conversion therapy overwhelmingly passed through City Council on Thursday, but Councilmember Chaim Deutsch was one of only two to vote against it.
Deutsch, who represents the area east of W. 12th St. in southern Brooklyn, joined Councilmember David Greenfield as the only other member of the City Council to vote against the bill, which would ban the charging of a fee for therapy geared towards changing a client’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Those who violate the law would face a $1,000 fine for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense, and $10,000 for a third offense, according to the legislation.
Councilmember Mark Treyger joined 42 of his colleagues in City Council by voting in favor of the bill. Treyger has participated in gay pride celebrations and recently helped raised awareness of LGBTQ bullying at the Coney Island/Stillwell Ave. subway station by handing out information to commuters.
Deutsch did not immediately respond to a request for comment after we asked why he voted against the bill. Conversion therapy has been deemed not only damaging and ineffective, but increasingly illegal: several states have passed laws protecting LGBT youth from the therapy.
Some mental health professionals have gone to great lengths to try to change their patients’ sexual orientation. Some have utilized shock therapy, conditioning, and a slew of other practices that have been severely harmful to the mental health of individuals subjected to it.
Deutsch has made controversial comments about the LGBT community in the past. In a 2013 primary debate in District 48, he targeted then-City Council Theresa Scavo after she was endorsed by the National Organization for Women, according to a video posted by Jacob Kornbluh.
“I have to say that, Theresa, you have the National Organization for Women’s endorsement, which, I don’t know how you could represent this community when they have an agenda with gays and lesbians,” he said.
If the bill is signed into law by Mayor de Blasio, it would go into effect four months later. The mayor has historically been a strong supporter of the LGBT community, and last year he praised Governor Cuomo after moving to ban insurers in New York from covering conversion therapy for LGBT youth.