Toledo City Council unanimously approved a ban on conversion therapy today while also making gender identity a protected class in the city.
The proposal was lauded earlier in the day during a public hearing by supporters but also criticized by clergymen who asked if they would be prohibited from counseling people who are gay.
Conversion therapy, which is designed to change a person's sexual orientation, has been discredited by the medical establishment and denounced by gay and transgender groups. The proposed law change, which states “no mental health provider shall engage in sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts with any person,” would make it a misdemeanor of the fourth degree to provide the therapy. Each day in violation would be a separate offense — each with a maximum fine of $250.
Also today, council unanimously approved a resolution that pushes back against recent incidents of prejudice and also President Trump's controversial immigration ban on admissions from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Council voted 12-0 in favor of a resolution “reaffirming Toledo as a welcoming, inclusive, and safe community for all residents.”
“With the action taken by the president in terms of prohibiting immigration into the country for a targeted group of people, and with the debates that are going to continue for some time, this is an opportunity for us to reaffirm the type of community we want to be,” said Councilman Peter Ujvagi, who came to America decades ago as a refugee from Hungary.
Mr. Ujvagi, sponsor of the resolution, said it was an effort by people “who feel strongly of having a welcoming community,” he said.
The resolution does not mention President Trump or his executive order, which has been on hold pending legal challenge.
It reads: “We recognize and are deeply concerned that members of our community are feeling targeted and fearful, and that hate incidents have occurred in our community.”
Two hundred people supporting the resolution packed council chambers Tuesday. Among them was a Syrian refugee family that relocated recently to Toledo.
In other business, council voted for a second consecutive regular meeting on an ordinance to allow the Metroparks of the Toledo Area to conduct deer kills in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark in South Toledo and Middlegrounds Metropark near downtown. It failed two weeks ago when council voted five in favor and six against changing city law to let “lawful official discharge of firearms” so sharpshooters could fire their rifles for the deer kills.
Council voted again today, this time 8-4 in favor of the ordinance.
Councilmen Theresa Gabriel, Rob Ludeman, Larry Sykes, and Cecelia Adams again voted against the measure. Peter Ujvagi, who was not present two weeks ago; Tyrone Riley and Yvonne Harper, who both voted no two weeks ago, all voted yes Tuesday along with the other councilmen in favor of the ordinance.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife approved the Metroparks’ request for a deer damage-control permit valid through March 31.
The Metroparks plans to kill as many as 50 white-tailed deer in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark. It said the kill is part of its ongoing effort to reduce ecological damage tied to an overabundance of deer in those protected areas.
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