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Puerto Rico’s governor issues executive order banning conversion therapy

Puerto Rico’s governor issues executive order banning conversion therapy

A person carries a rainbow flag for Puerto Rico at a march

Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló issued an executive order on Wednesday (27 March) banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy on LGBTI minors.

Rosselló made the decision to sign an executive order after the territory’s House of Representatives refused to vote on a bill proposing the ban. Earlier this month, the state Senate passed the measure.

Some members of the House justified their refusal to vote by saying conversion therapy is not widely practice in Puerto Rico. Other said the definition of the practice was ‘too broad’ in the bill.

Rosselló’s executive order goes into effect immediately.

Per its language, the Secretary of Health, the Administrator of the Mental Health and Addiction Services Administration, and the Secretary of Economic Development and Trade must issue regulations within 90 days restricting licensed health care facilities and workers from engaging in conversion therapy.

‘I firmly believe that the idea that there are people in our society who need treatment because of their gender identity or whom they love is not only absurd, it is harmful to so many children and young adults who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,’ Rosselló said in a statement last week.

The ongoing fight

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. It also causes an increase in suicidal thoughts.

UCLA’s Williams Institute found last year that more than 20,000 teens will face conversion therapy before adulthood.

Several states have passed bills banning the practice on youth, and several more are in the process of voting on such bills. One of the most recent states is Colorado.

So far in the United States, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy for minors.

Praise for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of 2018, its estimated population was nearly 3.2 million people.

In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Many consequently criticized the US government’s response to the natural disaster and its numerous consequences.

Human Rights Campaign Senior Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad ‘commended’ Rosselló for this action.

‘The dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy” not only doesn’t work — it can have life-threatening consequences. This is why it has been condemned by every major medical association in our country,’ he also added.

See also

Google ‘refused’ to pull LGBTI ‘conversion therapy’ app

Dan Reynolds pleads with religious leaders to denounce ‘gay cure’ therapy

Ottawa banned cell phones in schools but refused to ban conversion therapy