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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 9, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 10
Washington State Legislature bans conversion therapy
Section One
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Washington State Legislature bans conversion therapy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Washington State Legislature voted to ban conversion therapy on March 4. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the bill into law.

The State Senate agreed to amendments made by the House and passed SB 5722 by a lopsided 33-to-16 margin.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, would make it 'unprofessional conduct' for a licensed health care provider to perform conversion therapy on a patient under the age of 18.

Under the measure, if the provider violates the law, they would face sanctions ranging from fines to license revocation or suspension. Changes made in the House say the measure also applies to unlicensed counselors operating as part of a religious organization, religious denomination, or church.

Washington thus becomes the tenth US state to ban the practice of trying to 'cure' homosexuality by methods that, at best, are coercive, and at worst amount to psychological torture.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, and Arizona.

Seattle banned conversion therapy in August 2016, after Republican legislators blocked progress of the bill in the State Senate. The ban finally passed the State Senate because control of the body shifted back to Democrats last November, when Manka Dhingra won a Senate seat formerly held by a Republican.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. On the contrary, research has 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.

Conversion therapy is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

The HRC looked forward to Inslee's signature on the bill.

'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 HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof.

'It's time for Washington to join the growing number of states and municipalities [which] are enacting these critical protections. We thank the state legislators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous practice and now call on Gov. Inslee to sign this crucially important legislation.'

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Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan:

'We will do what we have to do to protect the people in Seattle'

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Washington State Legislature bans conversion therapy
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