Huntington Woods is the first suburb in Michigan to ban controversial conversion therapy, which was meant to turn gay people — straight.
Michigan has generally been lagging as a state when it comes to widely accepted laws and still continues to do so — minus the Huntington Woods part of it. Just how slow it is compared to the rest of the United States, it is obvious from the following brief reminder. In the late 1960s, various social movements in the USA helped set up the scene for the Gay movement, their culmination arguably being the Stonewall riots from 1969.
The process of decriminalization of sex between same-sex couples started in Illinois in 1962. Over the following decade, about half of the United States decriminalized it too, with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin closing the season in the 1980s.
The last stragglers of that wave in the 1990s were Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Montana, and Rhode Island.
Some states still held onto their arguably outdated criminal laws, and it wasn’t until 2003 that homosexuality was decriminalized by the Supreme Court in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, and others.
Not only was Michigan among the last states to concede to decriminalization, but it continued to provide “gay conversion therapy” in some of its statewide clinics.
For example, in 2018, Metro City Church advertised a six-week, $200 identity course which claimed it would aid teen girls with gay or bisexual thoughts in transforming their lives through prayer. This isn’t up on the church’s website anymore, but posts by non-members are still popping up commenting and criticizing this course.
How is that possible, you ask?
Well, although the American Psychiatric Association had originally treated homosexuality as an illness, in 1973, it officially took homosexuality off the list of mental illnesses. Therefore, the idea of “conversion therapy” is considered pseudoscientific in most scientific circles in today’s world.
But before that law was passed, there had been a growth in the number of conversion therapies and clinics, where experimental new ways of “turning gays straight” were being pushed on usually young people exhibiting such traits.
While it seems like a nightmare from a long time ago, there is still such a thing as “conversion therapy” all over Michigan with the exception of Huntington Woods now.
“Gay conversion therapy” is now banned in Huntington Woods. On June 4, the city commission voted 5–0 in favor of the ban.
Huntington Woods is no longer willing to wait for the whole state of Michigan to react.
“We’re not going to wait for a casualty and then say what can we do to prevent this from happening to somebody else,” commissioner Jules Olsman said for FOX2 News.
The longtime controversial practice is now banned within city limits. Those who try to practice it again will be facing a civil penalty.
The City Commissioner Joe Rozell was the one who proposed it upon reading an article about the trauma young people experienced while going through such “therapy.” He found it put youth at a higher risk of developing mental illnesses or even committing suicide.
The Republican majority has been preventing such initiatives for years and decades. There were attempts made by Democrats in Michigan’s House and Senate in 2014, 2016, and 2018 to ban this therapy but to no avail. Republican voters are historically religiously conservative and view the LGBT lifestyle as sinful and wrong.
Huntington Woods is leading the way by being among the first states to adopt a human rights ordinance, and the anti-conversion ban has followed accordingly.
And during the Pride month at that.