Rhode Island has became to 10th state in the United States to ban ex-gay conversion therapy for minors.
Governor Gina Raimondo signed the bill today (19 July) after the state’s legislature passed the bill by unanimous vote in June.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a LGBTI rights organization, praised the governor’s action.
‘No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy,’ HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement.
‘Medical professionals agree this outdated and discredited practice not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse,’ Warbelow continued.
‘Conversion therapy,’ also known as ‘reparative therapy,’ encompasses a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Conversion therapy practices are based on the belief that being LGBTI is a mental illness which needs to be cured, and can be cured.
Ten states now ban the conversion therapy for minors – Connecticut, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, plus the District of Columbia.
Four of those bans have come this year – Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island.
Despite legal challenges saying the bans violate freedom of speech and religion, federal courts have upheld conversion therapy bans as constitutional.
Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court declined to hear Welch vs Brown, a challenge to California’s ban on conversion therapy for youth.
California banned the practice in 2012, the first state in the nation to do so. New Jersey was the second, banning it in 2013.
Additionally, many cities also ban ex-gay conversion therapy for youth under 18. A majority of those cities are in Florida and Ohio.
Many major medical and psychological organizations have condemned conversion therapy as ineffective, among them American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Britain, the Church of England has urged Parliament to ban conversion therapy.