TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa ordinance that barred counselors from providing voluntarily therapy to minors who sought to rid their same-sex attractions was ruled unconstitutional by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Thursday’s ruling drew heavily from Otto v. City of Boca Raton, in which the circuit court ruled that similar bans in Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton were unconstitutional.
In that ruling, a judge refuted the term “conversion therapy” as “made-up,” and said that activists and the media frequently use it, though it is not fully accurate.
The order said in part that related cases have “generically referred to” the therapy as “‘SOCE’ or sexual orientation change efforts. The Ordinance uses the term ‘conversion therapy.’ Neither term is entirely accurate.”
The three-judge panel added, “The City of Tampa’s SOCE ordinance here is substantively the same as the ordinances at issue in Otto.”
As such, the court ruled that the ordinance seeking to regulate counselors’ efforts was a statewide concern and beyond the authority of local governments. Thus, the ruling permanently struck down the ordinance under the First Amendment.
“This is a great victory for counselors and their clients,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “Counselors and clients have the freedom to choose the counsel of their choice and be free of political censorship from government-mandated speech.”