The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘gay cure therapy’ is slowly dying in the United States.
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The Hawaii State Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, 10 April banning any attempt to alter the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTI youth. On Thursday, 12 April, Maine narrowly managed to pass a similar bill.
‘By passing this legislation, Hawaiian legislators are clearly demonstrating a passion for action to care for LGBTQ youth,’ said Sam Briton, a non-binary survivor of conversion therapy who works as head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project.
‘Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that I and nearly 700,000 LGBTQ people have survived. We are so grateful to Hawaii for protecting our youth from its trauma,’ they continued.
The Maine bill was spearheaded by Rep. Ryan Fecteau, who once had a university administrator urge him to go to conversion therapy.
‘I know there are young people who are far more vulnerable than I was back then,’ Fecteau said. ‘I want to protect them from the harm that can come from a trusted professional telling them, one way or another, that they are broken, that the core truth of who they are is wrong and even disgusting.’
There are now 11 states plus Washington D.C. where this inhumane practice is banned. These states include Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont.
As of 4 April, the governor of Maryland pledged to sign a bill banning the practice there as well. A bisexual house delegate gave a passionate speech about why such a ban is needed. This would bring the total number of states outlawing the practice to 12.
Additionally, cities such as New York and Philadelphia have also made conversion therapy illegal, as have several municipalities in Florida.
However, some states like Virginia are slower to end this practice. Back in January, Virginia’s Senate’s Health and Education Committee rejected a bill that would ban conversion therapy for minors.
United States is ahead of the game
According to The Daily Beast, this one area of pro-LGBTI legislation is where the United States is ahead of the curve. While nations like Canada and the United Kingdom are typically ahead of America in LGBTI rights and protections, they are falling behind when it comes to outlawing conversion therapy.
In the United Kingdom, conversion therapy is not yet banned despite other protections against discrimination for LGBTI people. In Canada, only the province of Ontario has a ban of conversion therapy in place. Large cities like Vancouver have yet to bar the practice.