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Covington is Kentucky's First City to Ban Conversion Therapy

The Covington city commission voted unanimously on Tuesday night to ban the practice known as conversion therapy on youth under the age of 18.

The practice attempts to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or religious intervention. It is widely condemned by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, among others.

On Tuesday, the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky offered its support to the ban.

The issue was first raised by Commissioner Shannon Smith, who read an op-ed in The River City News written by a Baptist pastor calling for the state to ban the practice.

"You have an advocate in me," Smith said Tuesday night to members of the LGBT community.

Commissioner Denny Bowman also supported the ban, noting that he read "disturbing things" about the practice online. "It really bothered me," Bowman said. The commissioner called on Attorney General Daniel Cameron to make such a ban part of his advocacy against child abuse.

There are two pieces of legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly, one in the senate and one in the house, but neither has moved out of committee.

Covington's vote follows votes in several Northern Kentucky cities to extend legal protections to LGBT people. Commonly referred to as fairness ordinances, Dayton, Bellevue, Fort Thomas, Highland Heights, Cold Spring, and Newport have all adopted such legislation since late last summer and as recently as earlier this month.

Covington adopted its fairness ordinance in 2003.

Covington recently scored second-highest in the state on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index with a 94 out of 100.

-Staff report