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Legal experts blast appeals court ruling striking down Florida bans on harmful anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy

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2-1 Decision by Two Trump-Appointed Judges

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down two local Florida ordinances that ban dangerous and harmful conversion therapy by licensed medical professionals. The 2-1 majority decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is being criticized by legal and human rights experts.

Nearly every major medical association in the U.S. has denounced conversion therapy as harmful and dangerous. The practice, which purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been linked to suicide. Those who have been subjected to it often call it “torture.”

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The Florida law applies only to licensed medical professionals, not to members of the clergy, yet on Friday the 11th Circuit panel claimed it violated the First Amendment.

Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern called the ruling a “really awful and frightening decision.”

Georgia State University College of Law law professor Anthony Michael Kreis calls conversion therapy “abusive,” and says today’s ruling by the 11th Circuit is a “truly reprehensible decision and civil rights disaster that will necessarily result in children suffering.”

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“To date 107 laws have passed to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” says Matthew Shurka, the co-founder of NCLR’s Born Perfect. He calls the 11th Circuit’s ruling an “outlier.”

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“Five of those laws have been challenged in federal court and each have been upheld. Today’s ruling from the 11th circuit is an outlier. Our courts cannot allow professionals to harm our LGBTQ youth.”

But Slate’s Stern says he expects the U.S. Supreme Court will take up these cases, and warns the current 6-3 conservative majority will strike down any bans on conversion therapy.

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“I have no real doubt that SCOTUS will find these bans unconstitutional,” Stern warns.

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