The Georgia State Assembly in the US has filed landmark legislation which would ban gay conversion therapy.
Called the Youth Mental Health Protection Act (HB 580), it would seek to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. It is a discredited practice which claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapists use counselling, medical or religious interventions.
If the bill is passed Georgia will become the 23rd US state working to enact legislation banning conversion therapy. Fifteen states have already passed legislation to outlaw conversion therapy.
‘All children in Georgia should receive care that first, does no harm. Conversion therapy has no scientific basis and contradicts the medical community’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity,’ said Representative Matthew Wilson who co-sponsored the bill.
‘I am proud to sponsor this bill that helps ensure the safety of Georgia’s LGBTQ youth by outlawing this incredibly dangerous practice.’
Conversion therapy needs to end
Organizations such as, The Trevor Project have lobbied to end conversion therapy in the US.
The Trevor Project is the only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services LGBTI young people. Its 50 Bills 50 States project is campaigning to support legislation like HB 580 to protect LGBTQ people from conversion therapy in every state.
LGB youth who are from families who have rejected them because of their sexuality are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide than youth from accepting families. The Trevor Project said being subjected to conversion therapy is often a particularly extreme form of family rejection.
‘There is no question. Georgia must protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of conversion therapy,’ said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.
‘As The Trevor Project continues to hear from young Georgians in crisis, we know this legislation will save lives, and we’re committed to seeing it start a critical conversation in the Peach State.’
Conversion therapy is widely opposed by prominent professional medical associations. Some of those include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.