The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday (13 March) banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors. It the latest state to put forward such legislation.
The bill is now on its way to the State Senate where, if passed, it will then head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
If Massachusetts ultimately passes the bill, it will become the 16th state (plus the District of Columbia) to ban conversion therapy for minors.
In August, Massachusett legislators failed to pass a similar bill. Though it passed in both state’s congressional chambers, the Senate could not agree on technical changes in order to make the bill consistent with the House version. Therefore, it died before reaching Republican Governor Charlie Baker.
Conversion therapy is the practice attempting to change a person’s sexuality via psychological or spiritual means. It has no basis in evidential science.
Most medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and more, condemn the practice.
Conversion therapy is shown to have detrimental effects on people, including mental health problems and an increase in suicidal thoughts.
UCLA’s Williams Institute found last year that more than 20,000 teens will face conversion therapy before adulthood.
An ongoing battle
‘Conversion therapy has been debunked and condemned by all major medical and mental health organizations; we should call this practice what it is: child abuse,’ said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse.
‘No child should have to endure such a painful and life-threatening experience, and we applaud the Massachusetts House of Representatives for taking such decisive action to protect LGBTQ youth. Now, it is critical for the Massachusetts Senate to quickly pass these bipartisan protections so they can make their way to the Governor.’
Massachusetts is not the only state currently trying to ban the practice.
Georgia recently filed landmark legislation banning conversion therapy on minors.
Similarly, Utah had been poised to be the next state to ban the pseudoscience before efforts suddenly failed. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) apologized following the disappointing outcome and said he would continue working with legislators on this issue.
So far, Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Delaware all have legislation banning conversion therapy.
Numerous other cities and counties have similar laws.