Counseling association cancels Tennessee convention

The American Counseling Association has cancelled its plan to hold its annual conference in Nashville in protest of Tennessee passing a counseling law that allows therapists to decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The American Counseling Association announced Tuesday that it is cancelling plans to hold a conference in Nashville next year to protest a Tennessee law letting therapists decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles.

The ACA, which has condemned Tennessee's new law as a "hate bill" that discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, has called the legislation an unprecedented attack on its profession. The organization says no other state has passed such a law.

The ACA had already booked its expo in the Music City, but decided to cancel after careful consideration and hearing from the organization's members, Richard Yep, its CEO, said in a news release.

"By relocating from Tennessee, ACA is standing up to this discriminatory law and we remain committed in the battle to ensure that this law does not become the national standard," Yep said.

The law was passed amid a flurry of legislation nationwide that critics say discriminates against the LGBT community.

Supporters of the law have said that it keeps the government from forcing people to counsel others to act in ways that conflict with a therapist's moral beliefs. They also said safeguards have been put in place to protect patients.

The new law says counselors are never allowed to turn people away if they are an immediate danger to themselves or others. They also must refer patients to someone else if they decline to treat them.