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Washington Passes Law Prohibiting Conversion Therapy

June 6th, 2018


Washington recently became one of the latest states to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ people.

Washington recently became one of the latest states to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ people.

Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee recently signed into law SB 7522, which protects LGBTQ individuals from conversion therapy. The bill is the result of efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equal Rights Washington. These groups have long advocated for the prohibition of conversion therapy throughout the country. In response to this decision, the National Center for Lesbian Rights Youth Policy issued a statement supporting the decision to sign SB 5722 into law. SB 5722 is the result of five years of work by a community of advocates throughout the state of Washington and has been hailed by many as a significant step forward in the rights of LGBTQ individuals.

What is Conversion Therapy?

Conversion therapy involves efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through cognitive behavioral techniques. Its use has been shown to result in higher rates of anxiety and depression, which has led a large number of mental health and medical organizations in the United States to speak out against the process. It is important to note that Washington’s law will not apply to religious workers or other non-licensed counselors who work with youth in religious settings. State officials will depend on the public’s assistance to report and monitor therapists who continue to offer this practice after the law goes into effect in June of 2018.

Arguments Against the Prohibition on Conversion Therapy

Not everyone supports this decision to prohibit conversion therapy. Parties against the prohibition argue that states should not pass laws determining what type of treatment teenagers are able to receive and that passing these laws is a significant step towards restricting the religious freedom of some individuals. Some individuals even argue that the practice has helped some individuals obtain a more satisfying life.

The government has argued that it should be able to make a decision about prohibiting this practice because the practice is damaging and lacks scientific credibility. Some LGBTQ rights groups even argue that the practice of conversion therapy increases the risk of suicide for young members of the community. As a result, the state argues that it should have the right to prohibit the practice.

The Future of Conversion Therapy in the United States

With this decision, the entire United States west coast now prohibits counselors from using conversion therapy on minors. Connecticut, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Nevada and Rhode Island also all have laws protecting individuals from conversion therapy. After Washington passed its prohibition, Hawaii and Maryland followed suit with their own bans. Cities and areas in other states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, and Wisconsin have also passed protective measures. Groups like the Human Rights Campaign, however, advocate that all states in the country should pass laws prohibiting the practice. Still, approximately 20,000 LGBTQ teenagers between the age of 13 to 17 undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional each year according to the Williams Institute at UCLA. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on keeping its readers up to date on this area of the law.

(image courtesy of Alex Jones)

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