This Thursday, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker signed into existence a new law which makes the debunked practice of gay conversion therapy illegal to be performed on minors.
The law prohibits state-licensed healthcare providers from promoting or applying the practice with a patient who is under 18 years of age.
From WBUR News:
The bill passed both branches last session, but lawmakers did not get it to Baker before the clock ran out on the formal legislating calendar for the year.
Passing the bill was one of the first major policy actions the Legislature took in the new session. Both chambers of the state Legislature overwhelmingly passed versions of the bill. Conversion therapy for minors is illegal in 14 other states and the District of Columbia.
Opponents like the Massachusetts Family Institute said the law could impact the ability of religious leaders and others to counsel people who seek their help.
The law makes Massachusetts the 16th state to ban the practice.
“After many years of hard work and advocacy, I am so excited that today, Massachusetts became the 16th state to finally ban conversion therapy for minors,” said state Rep. Kay Khan, who is a Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor. “At last, LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts are now finally protected from harmful and abusive practices.”
Also known as “reparative therapy,” the practice claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. While “talk therapy” is the most commonly used aspect of the practice, some practitioners have used methods that include induced vomiting or electric shocks.
According to a report by the Williams Institute at the University of California, tens of thousands of LGBT youth are likely to be subjected to the practice before they turn 18.
In a statement, Baker, who is a Republican, said that he’s “proud of the commonwealth’s history of support for equal rights and protecting all citizens against discrimination.”
As the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) points out, gay conversion therapy has been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades.
In 2007, the American Psychological Association reviewed the existing research into the practice’s efficiency and concluded that “it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions” after undergoing the practice, adding that the practice actually psychologically harms those who are subjected to it.
Featured image: screen grab via MassLive (YouTube)