- The new law is the first in the South to protect young people from anti-LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed a statewide law protecting young people from ‘conversion therapy’.
It makes Virginia the first southern US state to outlaw so-called ‘gay cures’ on young people. And the law will take effect on 1 July.
Meanwhile, across the United States, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico now prohibit ‘conversion therapy.’
The so-called ‘therapies’ do not work and can be very dangerous to people’s long-term mental health. Moreover, leading psychiatric and psychological organizations in the US and around the world oppose them.
‘Rapidly growing public support for LGBTQ equality in the South’
Rev Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, celebrated the vote:
‘The passage of this law protecting minors from “conversion therapy” in Virginia is a historic breakthrough for LGBTQ Southerners.
‘It’s a clear signal of the rapidly growing public support for LGBTQ equality in the South and sends a salient message: LGBTQ youth must be treated with respect, love, and support.
‘This year Virginia has paved the way forward for LGBTQ Southerners, and momentum is building across the South.
‘Last summer Gov. Roy Cooper made North Carolina the first state to take any statewide action on the issue with an executive order prohibiting public funding for conversion therapy.
‘And in Kentucky, Republicans and Democrats have together sponsored legislation prohibiting the practice.
‘This progress illustrates a sea change in the South. Communities are coming together, opening their hearts and minds, and building toward states where every LGBTQ person can thrive.’
‘LGBTQ “conversion therapy” robbed me of years of my life’
Adam Trimmer is a survivor of conversion therapy who lives in Virginia and is the Virginia Ambassador for Born Perfect. He added:
‘I endured anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy, and it was devastating. The only effect it had was a negative one, robbing me of years of my life and requiring so much time, energy, and therapy to pick up the pieces.
‘No one should ever have to go through therapy because of therapy. Because of this law, this no longer has to be a reality for the next generation.
‘Thank you to the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who passed this legislation, to the advocates who never stopped pushing, and to the strong, resilient survivors who shared their stories and welcomed Virginians into their lives.
‘This is a historic affirmation of LGBTQ dignity and equality, the first in the South to protect our youth from this dangerous and discredited practice.’
This year lawmakers in Virginia have also advanced legislation to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. And there is a bill to ensure that transgender people are fully protected from discrimination in healthcare settings.