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New bill could ban use of taxpayers’ money for conversion therapy in US

Patrick Kelleher March 29, 2019
New bill could ban use of taxpayers’ money for conversion therapy in US

United States Congress (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

A new bill has been introduced that—if passed—would ban the use of taxpayers’ money to pay for conversion therapy in the United States.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney—who is openly gay and is co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus—introduced the bill yesterday with the aim of preventing Medicaid funds being used to pay for the harmful practice.

In the US, conversion therapy has been discredited by the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.

Despite this, many people across the US have been exposed to the harmful practice. A recent UCLA study estimated that 698,000 LGBT+ Americans have undergone some kind of conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy has been ‘discredited’ and is ‘harmful’

Power currently rests with individual states in the US to decide what Medicaid funding can cover. If this bill is passed, it would prevent individual states from funding conversion therapy.

The bill has been cosponsored by 63 members of Congress and has also been endorsed by the Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“Until we can just ban conversion ‘therapy’ all together, we must ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t funding a fraudulent practice that has been roundly discredited by the medical community.”

– Sean Patrick Maloney

“Conversion practices are discredited, harmful, and not therapy,” Maloney said. “Fundamentally, conversion tactics are based on the idea that a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation are diseases to be cured—they have no legitimate medical application and should not be used anywhere.

“Until we can just ban conversion ‘therapy’ all together, we must ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t funding a fraudulent practice that has been roundly discredited by the medical community.”

New bill could ban use of taxpayers’ money for conversion therapy in US
Sean Patrick Maloney, who introduced the bill (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty)

Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, said the bill would help to limit the ways in which rogue mental health professionals can be reimbursed for their practices.

Public funds should ‘never be used to fund this dangerous and discredited practice’

Meanwhile, David Stacy, Government Affairs Director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said conversion therapy has been “rejected by every major medical and mental health organization.”

“Taxpayer dollars should never be used to fund this dangerous and discredited practice,” he said.

“We call on Congress to advance this legislation and ensure funds meant to improve the lives and welfare of all Americans never go toward harmful, medically unnecessary practices.”

Sean Patrick Maloney is a member of the US House of Representatives for New York’s 18th disctict. He is the first openly gay person elected to Congress from New York.

LGBT+ charity Stonewall has branded conversion therapy as “unethical” and “harmful.”

The practice is defined as “any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity.”

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.

More: bill, conversion therapy, medicaid, Sean Patrick Maloney, taxpayers funds, US

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