Covington Becomes first Kentucky city to ban conversion therapy

The large Northern Kentucky city of Covington, population 40,455, became the first in the state to ban the harmful practice of anti-LGBTQ “Conversion Therapy” on youth under the age of 18 with a unanimous vote of 5-0 tonight. The Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky spoke in favor of the ordinance at the meeting, which was largely closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders of Northern Kentucky Fairness and Northern Kentucky Pride advocated for the ordinance and helped provide resources and materials to the Board of Commissioners.

Twenty states, including Virginia most recently, have banned “conversion therapy” along with dozens of municipalities across the nation. Cincinnati, just across the Ohio River from Covington, became the first city in the nation to ban it in 2016. The harmful practice of trying to “change” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been repudiated by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and countless others as causing increased risk of suicide, depression, and isolation among LGBTQ youth.

The ban on “conversion therapy” comes after a string of Fairness Ordinances in Northern Kentucky that ban LGBTQ discrimination. Covington was among the first Kentucky cities to pass a Fairness Ordinance in 2003 and last year, Covington leaders called on other Northern Kentucky cities to follow their lead on LGBTQ inclusion. Since then, six additional cities in the region have approved their own LGBTQ Fairness Ordinances. Covington recently scored second highest in the state on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index with a 94 out of 100.

Two bills that would also ban “conversion therapy” for minors statewide have been introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly, Senate Bill 85 and House Bill 199. While both measures have received a record number of bi-partisan co-sponsors, neither have moved from committee in either the Senate or House.