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Elected Officials Attempting To Ban Conversion Therapy In Philadelphia

by Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- City and state elected officials are lining up to outlaw a discredited practice aimed at changing the sexual orientation of gay youth, though they can't identify anyone actually using it.

The bills are aimed at "conversion therapy" or as State Representative Brian Sims thinks of it, "child abuse."

This is personal for Sims, the first openly gay person elected to the Pennsylvania legislature.

"I don't know a single LGBT person that hasn't been touched by conversion therapy in some way or another," Sims said.

Though, that would exclude Sims himself, he says.

He also concedes he doesn't know where it's happening or how widespread it is.

"Because of how it's practiced. It's not a full-time therapist who puts it on their sign that they practice conversion therapy. They're known within a community, within a church, within a parish that they'll help your son or daughter if they're going through these issues," Sims explained.

That would also make the law difficult to enforce.

Sims' past efforts to outlaw it statewide have failed, but he says he believes the time is right to try again.

A bill recently introduced in city council would outlaw it in Philadelphia.

Sponsor Mark Squilla says he too can't say if it's happening here but, "we want to let people know the city would not stand for this type of therapy."

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