QUEER VOICES
03/29/2018 01:01 pm ET

Washington Becomes Latest State To Ban Gay 'Conversion Therapy'

The new law protects anyone under 18 from the discredited practice.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill Wednesday that bans youth “conversion therapy,” the medically discredited practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The new law means licensed health care providers won’t be allowed to use the so-called therapy on anyone under 18.

It’s another win for proponents of LGBTQ rights, who consider the practice to be dangerously abusive.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C., now protect children from conversion therapy, according to The Human Rights Campaign. That figure includes New York state, which does not have a full ban but enacted measures in February 2016 to discourage the practice, forbidding health insurance providers from covering it for anyone under 18.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all consider conversion therapy to be ineffective. The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ rights group, says the practice can also increase the risk of suicide for young members of the community. 

Gov. Jay Inslee, pictured at an April 2017 rally in Seattle, signed the anti-"conversion therapy" bill Wednesday. 
David Ryder / Reuters
Gov. Jay Inslee, pictured at an April 2017 rally in Seattle, signed the anti-"conversion therapy" bill Wednesday. 

“Banning conversion therapy sends a loud and unequivocal message to LGBTQ youth: there is nothing wrong with you,” Washington state Sen. Marko Liias (D), the openly gay lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

“As a community, we love and support every person and we celebrate the diversity that makes us stronger. I am proud that Washington is standing up for our queer youth and I look forward to the day that these monstrous practices are illegal in every state,” he said.

An estimated 20,000 LGBTQ teens now ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional in states with no protections, according to The Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law.

Similar legislation is pending in other states, with one measure passing the Maryland state Senate on Wednesday.

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