A divided federal appeals court on Friday declared unconstitutional two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a 2-1 decision, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with two therapists who said the laws in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County violated their free speech rights.
Circuit Judge Britt Grant said that while enjoining the laws “allows speech that many find concerning–even dangerous,” the First Amendment “does not allow communities to determine how their neighbors may be counseled about matters of sexual orientation or gender.”
Conversion therapy aims to change people’s sexual orientations or gender identities.
The therapists, Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, said their clients typically had “sincerely held religious beliefs conflicting with homosexuality,” and sought counseling to conform their identities and behaviors with those beliefs.