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Washington State Closer to Banning 'Conversion Therapy' on Kids

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Mar 5, 2018

LGBTQ youth in Washington State may be one step closer to greater safety.

The state's Senate gave the green light to a bill that would outlaw the practice of so-called "conversion therapy" on minors, Newsweek reports.

The practice, which has been decried as torture by activists seeking to protect children - many of whom were subjected to "conversion therapy" themselves as young people - is currently outlawed in ten states - California, Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and Rhode Island - as well as in the District of Columbia and various municipalities around the country. The Washington state Senate's approval came after the Washington House provided amendments to the legislation, which is known as Bill 5722.

The bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee. Once the legislation takes effect, practitioners inflicting "conversion therapy" - also known as "reparative therapy" - on children under the age of 18 would be liable for "unlawful conduct," and could lose their licenses and/or be required to pay fines, Newsweek reported.

The bill was first passed by the Washington state Senate in January, reported Tacoma newspaper the News Tribune. The House added amendments, which the Senate then approved.

The amendments from the House included provisions that make the bill applicable to "nonlicensed counselors," such as those who engage in the practice in affiliation with a church or religious organization, reported The Hill.

Gov. Inslee is expected to sign the bill into law, the Huffington Post reported.

The Human Rights Campaign's JoDee Winterhof hailed the bill's progress, the Huffington Post article noted. "Children across the Evergreen State deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy," said Winterhof.

"There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression," text at the Human Rights Campaign? Website says. "To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association."
Thus far, the U.S. Supreme Court has seemed disinclined to take up challenges to state-level bans. One such challenge to New Jersey's ban protecting LGBTQ youth was turned away by the Court in 2015, The Hill noted.


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