Bill Prohibiting Gay-To-Straight Therapy Becomes Law In DC

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed legislation banning any form of therapy which purports to help gay youth transition to straight on Monday, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The legislation, termed The Conversation Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act, was originally passed by the city council without objection on Dec. 2, rendering Washington, D.C. the first city to ban the practice. New Jersey and California are two states with similar prohibitions. Similar legislation has been unsuccessfully proposed in over 12 other states.

Licensed mental health providers will no longer be able to offer sexual orientation change therapy to minors in Washington, D.C., based on the bill authored by Councilmember Mary Cheh.

Supporters of the bill claimed that no major medical association endorses conversion therapy. Some even accused mental health practitioners of lying to families and abusing their power.

“This law ensures that mental health practitioners can no longer abuse their power to harm young people and families by propagating the dangerous lie that there is something wrong with being LGBT or that therapy can change their core sexual orientation or gender identity,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames.

“This District of Columbia is leading the way to eradicate these dangerous practices which harm LGBT youth and deceive families. We hope that other states will pass measures to protect LGBT youth from this so-called ‘therapy,’” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Senior Legislative Counsel Alison Gill added.

According to HRC, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth no longer have to suffer from attempts to discourage their true, authentic selves.

However, during the original committee hearing in June at the D.C. City Council, Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, pointed to the strange way in which the council dealt with expert witness submissions.

“The DC City Council disregarded powerful testimony by therapists who debunked misconceptions about sexual reorientation therapy and by clients who had benefited from it,” Sprigg stated.

“Never before has a state outlawed a form of mental health counseling based not upon the techniques used, but solely upon the goal which the client seeks to achieve. This is a shocking violation of the longstanding ethical principle of clieOppnt autonomy,” Sprigg said, adding that “There is no scientific research demonstrating that sexual orientation change efforts cause harm to minors–none.”

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