Chess moves

Gay politician moves to repeal New York ban on conversion therapy. Wait, what?!

Corey Johnson. Via YouTube

Meet Corey Johnson, the gay, HIV+ speaker of the New York City council who wants conversion therapy to become legal again.

Though the move might sound counterintuitive at best, Johnson wants the ban repealed in hopes of keeping it on the books. If that sounds even more confusing, stick around…

It breaks down like this: A conservative group called the Alliance Defending Freedom has challenged the New York ban on conversion therapy on the grounds of free speech, claiming that the ban censors speech between patients and psychotherapists. With conservative higher courts in play, Johnson and his allies have repealed the ban in hopes of preventing the courts from protecting the harmful practice.

Related: California church under fire for promoting conversion therapy on Instagram

“I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right-wing groups,” Johnson said of his political chess move. “But the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, has become more conservative.”

Conversion therapy purports to change sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling and religious instruction. The medical and psychiatric fields have widely discredited the practice as ineffective and extremely harmful. Patients who undergo conversion therapy have much higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide.