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Gay ‘cure’ therapy outlawed in Hawaii

Nick Duffy May 26, 2018

The Governor of Hawaii has signed a law outlawing gay ‘cure’ therapy for minors.

The US state has become the latest to outlaw the use of so-called conversion therapy to attempt to change the sexuality of minors.

Performing gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors is already is illegal in 11 US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided, and often extremely harmful. Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

Hawaii became the latest state to outlaw it this week, as Governor David Ige signed a bill which bans efforts to “engage in or attempt to engage in sexual orientation change efforts on a person under 18 years of age.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a dangerous and ​inhumane form of child abuse that has no basis in science and is ​uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare ​organization.

“We thank the many advocates, allies, parents, and survivors who spoke out against this abusive practice and urged their elected officials to adopt these crucial protections. We also thank Governor Ige and the Hawaii State Legislature for enacting this legislation to protect the state’s LGBTQ youth.”

The bill sailed through the Democrat-dominated House with just two votes against, from Republican leaders Gene Ward and Bob McDermott.

In the Senate the bill passed by a vote of 24-1. The lone vote against was Democratic Senator Mike Gabbard, the head of the so-called Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, who previously waged a campaign to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

The bill notes: “The American Psychological Association convened a task force on appropriate therapeutic responses to sexual orientation.

“The task force conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts. The task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to be successful and involve risk of harm to lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, including depression, suicidality, loss of sexual feeling, anxiety, shame, negative self-image, and other negative feelings and behaviours.

“The legislature further finds that children and adolescents who participate in these types of sexual orientation change efforts, which often use fear-based techniques, are given inaccurate scientific information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and are also at risk of increased self-stigma and psychological distress.”

It adds: “The legislature additionally finds that sexual orientation change efforts are opposed by the country’s leading medical and mental health professional organisations, including the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“The purpose of this Act is to protect the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts by regulating the conduct of specific state-licensed persons who provide professional counselling to minors under the age of eighteen and prohibiting these professionals from engaging in, attempting to engage in, or advertising the offering of sexual orientation change efforts on persons under eighteen years of age.”

The Hawaii state capitol (Creative Commons)

A string of states have proposed laws on the issue, which have overwhelming backing from Democrats but are still largely opposed by many GOP politicians.

A bill was greenlit in Washington state in March.

The European Parliament earlier this year voted to condemn gay ‘cure’ therapy and urged member countries to ban the harmful practice.

The EU body voted by 435 to 109 to adopt text calling on member states to outlaw the discredited practice.

It says: “[The European Parliament] welcomes initiatives prohibiting LGBTI conversion therapies and banning the pathologisation of trans identities and urges all Member States to adopt similar measures that respect and uphold the right to gender identity and gender expression.”

It is the first time the Parliament has made the specific disavowal of conversion therapies.

The vote came on an amendment to parliament’s annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU, which was later adopted.

The Intergroup’s Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP noted that only a small number of EU member countries “have explicitly banned LGBTI conversion therapies” to date.

The MEP continued: “The UN Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Human Rights Committee have already condemned the practice of conversion therapy in several countries.”

More: Gay, gay cure, Hawaii, LGBT, sexuality, US

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