As one senator tries to ban conversion therapy, another just launched a bid to protect it by law
Republican state senator Vince Leach is sponsoring a bill that would prevent any municipality or county in Arizona from banning gay conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is the harmful, pseudoscientific and discredited practise of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Almost half of the states in the US alongside multiple counties, including Pima County in Arizona, already have some form of a ban against it.
However, the bill sponsored by Leach, with the backing of other Republicans, would change that. The bill in its current form seeks to prevent professional counsellors from being discredited if they are providing therapy that is following their “conscience or religious belief”.
Leach has been contacted for comment.
Cindy Dahlgren of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy told 12 News: “The government should not be telling individuals what kind of therapy they should receive nor the therapist, what he or she can talk about.”
At the same time, another bill is being pushed through to ban conversion therapy in the state.
While Leach will bring forward his bill, Democrat senator Sean Bowie is pushing – for the fourth year in a row – for a bill that would ban conversion therapy for children under 18. However, the bill would not apply to religious counsellors.
Bowie told 12 News that even though it’s touted as therapy, “it’s important to point out there’s no major medical group that supports” conversion therapy. He added: “It’s extremely harmful, and we’ve lost a lot of young people.”
Twenty states have a law that bans conversion therapy for minors, including California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, New York and Illinois. One state partially bans the harmful practice, while 26 states still have no law or policy which bans conversion therapy.
Other countries have banned conversion therapy.
Germany passed a ban on the advertising and practice of conversion therapy for minors in 2020. The European country joined Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan in banning the harmful and dangerous practice.
Queensland became the first Australian state to ban the torturous practice in August 2020, and the Victorian parliament has also banned conversion therapy in its part of the country.
New Zealand‘s prime minister Jacinda Arden has committed to banning conversion therapy by the end of this year, but having the legislation in the house this year could mean the ban won’t pass or take effect until potentially 2022.
Meanwhile, the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson has remained silent on the issue.