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Georgia moves to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy

Lydia Smith March 8, 2019

Americans believe LGBT+ people make up nearly a quarter of the US population, (Getty)

Georgia has made moves to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy.

The state Assembly filed legislation HB580 this week. Titled the Youth Mental Health protection Act, it would ban the provision of conversion therapy to minors, while also barring counsellors from “seeking to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Representative Matthew Wilson, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: “All children in Georgia should receive care that first, does no harm.

“Conversion therapy has no scientific basis and contradicts the medical community’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

— Georgia representative Matthew Wilson

“Conversion therapy has no scientific basis and contradicts the medical community’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I am proud to sponsor this bill that helps ensure the safety of Georgia’s LGBTQ youth by outlawing this incredibly dangerous practice.”

Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, an organisation focusing on suicide prevention among LGBT youth, said in a statement: “There is no question. Georgia must protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of conversion therapy.

“As The Trevor Project continues to hear from young Georgians in crisis, we know this legislation will save lives, and we’re committed to seeing it start a critical conversation in the Peach State.”

Georgia representative Sam Park  congratulates representative Matthew Wilson for presenting a bill protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy.
Georgia representative Sam Park is a co-sponsor of the bill presented by representative Matthew Wilson aiming to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy. (Screenshot/Twitter)

Conversion therapy, which can include hypnosis and electric shocks, is based on the belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be cured.

It has been widely discredited by medical experts for risking causing emotional and psychological damage.

Georgia could become next state to ban conversion therapy on minors

In January, New York passed separate bills banning gay conversion therapy and adding gender identity to its anti-discrimination legislation.

Other states that have banned the practice include New Hampshire, California, Maryland, and Connecticut.

The other bill, called the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which added gender identity to the state’s hate crime laws, was first put forward to the legislative body around 17 years ago but had faced opposition in the senate.

“The New York State Senate just passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression and adding protections for transgender NYers to the state’s Hate Crimes Law,” Hoylman said on Twitter on Tuesday (January 15).

More: conversion therapy, gay conversion therapy, Georgia, US, US

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