The New York City Council is moving to repeal a far-reaching ban on gay conversion therapy that it passed just two years ago, Speaker of the Council Corey Johnson announced Thursday. The surprise repeal is an attempt to avoid a potential challenge of the ban before the Supreme Court. In January, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based conservative Christian legal organization, filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming the ban violates free speech. Some LGBT advocates fear that if the lawsuit reaches the conservative Supreme Court, the justices would not rule in favor of the city.
Johnson, who is gay, said repealing the ban is an unfortunate, but necessary move. “Obviously I didn’t want to repeal this. I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right-wing groups,” Johnson said. “But the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, has become more conservative.” Once the repeal is approved by the Council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city will follow state law that is less restrictive and only applies to minors.