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Massachusetts Senate passes bill banning conversion therapy on minors

Massachusetts Senate passes bill banning conversion therapy on minors

The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill today (29 March) to banning conversion therapy on minors.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a similar bill by a 147-8 vote.

The Senate approved the bill by a 34-0 vote.

One of the six Republicans, Senator Patrick O’Connor, voted for the bill. The remaining Senators voted ‘present’.

Conversion therapy

The expression ‘conversion therapy’ refers to those practices aimed to change a person’s sexuality through therapy and religion.

Currently, state-licensed health providers are legally allowed to subject children, under the age of 18, to conversion therapy practices.

Such practices include efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions. They also aim to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

The ban would continue to allow adults to seek conversion therapy if they want.

‘Cruel talk therapy’

Arlene Isaacson, co-chair of the Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors, said conversion therapy can range from generating physical pain to try to dissuade individuals from same-sex attraction to what she called ‘cruel psychological talk therapy’.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT rights advocate, cheered the news.

‘Children everywhere deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called conversion therapy,’ aid HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse.

‘We laud and thank those who voted in the Massachusetts legislature to pass – in a bipartisan fashion – these vital and potentially life-saving protections in the Bay State.’

He furthermore added: ‘Now, we look forward to Governor Baker’s signing this bill into law, ending this egregious practice in Massachusetts.’

What’s next?

Before the bill is signed into law, it needs to be approved by the State’s Governor, Republican Charlie Baker.

Baker had previously said he is leaning toward signing the measure if it reaches his desk.

If Massachusetts ultimately passes the bill, it will become the 16th state (plus the District of Columbia) to ban this kind of therapy for minors.

Other states banning conversion therapy

Massachusetts is not the only state currently trying to ban the practice.

Other states that have passed similar bans include Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii and New Hampshire. The District of Columbia has also approved a ban, advocated said.

Numerous other cities and counties have similar laws.

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