For the second year in a row, lawmakers voted to ban state-licensed counsellors from enacting conversion therapy on minors in Maine, US, yesterday (8 May).
The Maine House of Representative’s decision is a powerful move in protecting LGBTI youth from the harmful practise. The bill is how heading to the Senate for further consideration.
If ratified by senators, Maine will join 16 other US states (and two territories) that have banned conversion therapy.
What does it all mean?
Simply put, passing a law in most US states is a two-step process. States have a lower and upper chamber that introduce and pass legislation.
Each state (sans from Nebraska) has their own House of Representatives; the lower house of state legislature. Members vote to make and pass federal laws there.
Afterwards, bills are then passed onto the state’s Senate – the upper house – who can formally ratify legislation introduced in the lower house.
So, in other words, the lower chamber of Maine has passed the bill. That means it’s up to Maine’s senators to officially pass the measure.
The lower chamber’s decision came after two hours of heated, emotional debate, the Press Herald reported. The vote was 91-46, with five Republicans and five independents joining 81 Democrats to support the bill.
‘Has no place in Maine or anywhere else’
Furthermore, supporters of the bill were ecstatic.
Xavier Persad, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said: ‘“It is heartening to see the Maine House of Representatives stand up for LGBTQ youth by passing this critical legislation that will protect some of the most vulnerable Mainers from an extremely damaging practice.
‘So-called “conversion therapy” is a harmful, debunked practice that has no place in Maine or anywhere else.
‘We’re grateful to Equality Maine and Representative Ryan Fecteau for their leadership in ensuring this bill passed through the House with [strong] bipartisan support.
‘Now, the Senate should act quickly to pass this legislation and send it to the governor’s desk.’
Conversion therapy is still common
Also called reparative therapy, medical organizations have widely critisized the treatment as traumatizing and harmful to minors.
In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics warned against it as early as 1993. They said it reinforced anxiety and shame.
Despite such denouncement, the ‘therapy’ has remained common in pockets of the US.
But between 2012 and 2018, lawmakers across 14 states were kept busy with passing laws prohibiting conversion therapy for minors.
Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia all have laws protecting youth from this abusive practice.
Though, the impact of the practise has been immeasurable. An estimated 698,000 LGBTI adults in the US have received conversion therapy according to research.
Around half of them underwent the unsound therapy as teens.