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The Madison City Council voted Tuesday to ban practices that aim to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors, commonly known as “conversion therapy.”

The ban will prohibit fee-based treatments or counseling on a minor that attempts to change “a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

Supporters of the ban said conversion therapy can cause psychological harm to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and lead to issues like depression and substance abuse.

“Conversion therapy is not based in science or health care, but instead in a belief that non-traditional sexual orientations and gender identities are inherently wrong and need to be corrected,” said Austin Kieler, the chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s LGBT Caucus.

The council’s decision follows similar action taken by states and cities across the United States, including the Milwaukee City Council’s 12-2 vote to prohibit the practice in March.

Due to a mix-up in noticing the vote, the conversion therapy ban was not added onto the council’s agenda until Monday.

  • In other action, the council approved Tuesday a zoning change for a contentious mixed-use development on East Johnson Street after it failed to pass the body at a previous meeting.

Council members voted 13-6 to approve the zoning change to allow developer Chris Houden to build 54 apartment units and 2,800 square feet of retail space to the 700 block of East Johnson Street. But the area neighborhood association and its City Council representative opposed the plans, saying the project will alter the character of the Near East Side street.

Eleven residential properties from 717 to 753 E. Johnson St. are included in the project. Five homes would be retained on the block, while the other six would either be relocated within the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood or demolished.

On June 19, the council voted 10-6 in favor of the project, but it failed to reach the 11 votes necessary for approval.

  • In other action, the council approved a new design for the reconstruction of an approximately three-block length of Winnebago Street on the East Side.

Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed a previous design for a stretch of Winnebago Street between Bashford Avenue and South Second Street that eliminated on-street parking on one side to provide more room for trees and buffers for bicycle lanes. The council had selected the vetoed design over one that allowed parking on both sides.

The new design approved Tuesday preserves parking for both directions of traffic, but limits the available spots on the street’s south side in lieu of wider terraces to support larger trees.

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Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.