Among the cluster of anti-LGBT bills filed this year in Tallahassee, HB 537 poses the greatest threat to efforts to outlaw conversion therapy.
“As written this is a broad preemption bill which restricts local governments from passing any laws that would restrict or regulate businesses run out of someone’s home,” said Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida. “This means local ordinances that ban conversion therapy would be void if the practice was happening in a home office or home-based setting. This would carve a huge loophole into existing conversion therapy bans in 22 municipalities in Florida in addition to all future ordinances.”
Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as reperative therapy, is an attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to hetreosexual by deploying psychological or spiritual interventions. Presently, 19 U.S. states and Puerto Rico ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors.
The Florida house bill is sponsored by Reps. Anthony Sabatini (R-Lake County) and Byron Donalds (R-Naples). Donalds, 41, recently announced his intentions to seek the open house seat in the 19th U.S. congressional district. In campaign materials, Donalds describes himself as a “strong Trump supporting, gun owning, liberty loving, pro-life, politically incorrect, black man.”
A Senate companion bill, SB 778, has been introduced by Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), but as of now there are no co-sponsors and no committee hearings have been scheduled yet.