PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The practice of conversion therapy is now illegal within Allegheny County.

In an unexpected vote, the council passed a measure officially barring anyone from trying to convert LGBTQ minors.

Some council members and those in attendance on Tuesday night were surprised that the council voted on the bill.

It passed 13-2.

The bill prohibits any licensed mental health provider from administering conversion therapy. It was sponsored by Councilman Paul Klein and five others.

Klein said the speakers who gave public comments on the bill had moving insights. The bill bans sexual orientation and gender conversion therapy for minors.

Klein called the therapy a public health and safety threat, saying the therapy has been rejected by virtually every professional organization in the mental health universe.

The two no votes on the bill were Councilman Sam DeMarco and Councilwoman Cindy Kirk.

“We don’t regulate psychiatrists, nurses, the practice,” argued Kirk. “I’ve had many physicians stop me in the hallway and say ‘Who do you think you are?’ Who am I to tell them how to practice their practice?”

Councilman DeMarco sponsored a dueling bill to ban certain methods of conversion therapy, such as electroshocking but keeping gender dysphoria treatment and self-determined objectives legal for minors, if a parent seeks it.

The council did not vote on DeMarco’s bill.

Allegheny County Council has been discussing this since March of 2019.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted to ban conversion therapy in December of 2016.

Lisa Washington