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Hawaii becomes latest state to try banning conversion therapy

The state's senate passed a bill banning the practice on minors

Hawaii becomes latest state to try banning conversion therapy
Rainbow pride in the Aloha state. | Photo: Flickr/D.A. Lewis

The Hawaii State Senate passed a bill banning conversion therapy on minors in the Tuesday (6 March) session.

In SB 270’s text, conversion therapy, both in practice and advertisement, is prohibited.

‘No person who is licensed to provide professional counseling shall:

     (1)  Engage in or attempt to engage in sexual orientation change efforts on a person under eighteen years of age; or

     (2)  Advertise the offering of sexual orientation change efforts on a person under eighteen years of age.’

Furthermore, it also explains research done exploring the harm of conversion therapy.

Legislators wrote the bill based on a task force the American Psychological Association set forth to assess the practice.

‘The task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to be successful and involve risk of harm to lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, including depression, suicidality, loss of sexual feeling, anxiety, shame, negative self-image, and other negative feelings and behaviors.

‘The legislature further finds that children and adolescents who participate in these types of sexual orientation change efforts, which often use fear-based techniques, are given inaccurate scientific information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and are also at risk of increased self-stigma and psychological distress.’

The authors of the bill state the purpose of the proposed Act ‘is to protect the physical and psychological well-being of minors’.

A growing sentiment within the US

The next step for the bill is to pass in the House of Representatives. If it does, the governor will receive the bill to sign it into law.

Human Rights Campaign Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad praised the bill’s passing.

‘Children across the Aloha State deserve to live their lives authentically, and they deserve to know that they are not broken or ill because of who they are.’

Hawaii follows in the footsteps of other states outlawing this practice. Many official medical organizations condemn it.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island all have laws prohibiting conversion therapy.

Most recently, Washington state passed a similar bill and now awaits the governor’s signature.

As more states adopt measures such as these, the more pressure there is for a change in federal law.

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