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National Center for Lesbian Rights

Cases & Advocacy

Vazzo v. City of Tampa Amicus

Status: Open

Outcome: Pending

Location: Florida

Jurisdiction + Case Number: U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, No.8:17-cv-02896-CEH-AASU.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, No. 19-14387

In April 2017, Tampa’s City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting licensed therapists from engaging in the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, with patients under 18 years old. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

In December 2017, an anti-LGBTQ legal organization challenged the law on behalf of Robert Vazzo and David Pickup‚ two licensed therapists who want to subject minors to conversion therapy. NCLR, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed amicus briefs on behalf of Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, urging the court to uphold the ordinance.

In October 2019, the U.S. District Court ruled that the ordinance was invalid because, under Florida law, only the state legislature, not cities, have the authority to regulate licensed mental health professionals. The City appealed the ruling. On behalf of Equality Florida, NCLR, SPLC, and Carlton Fields filed an amicus brief urging the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the district court’s decision.

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