Washington state bill to ban conversion therapy passes House

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Washington may be the next state to prohibit minors from undergoing “reparative” therapies intended to turn gay people straight; the state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of House Bill 2451, with a final count of 94 to 4.

The legislation, which was sponsored by former Democratic state representative Marko Liias before his successful run for state Senate, would amend Washington law to add “performing sexual orientation change efforts on a patient under age eighteen,” to the list of what constitutes unprofessional conduct for any licensed healthcare professional.

On January 22, lawmakers in the state capital attended a hearing at which mental health care professionals and LGBT rights advocates spoke in favor of banning the therapy, which studies have consistently shown to be ineffectual and likely to have a negative impact on mental health.

The introduction to the bill reads in part, “Washington has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”

According to King 5 News, Liias explained, “Sexual orientation change efforts are ineffective and dangerous and we should not study them, we should make them an unprofessional practice.”

The bill had its first reading by the state Senate on February 17; it is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care on February 20.

Bans on such therapy for minors are already in place in California and New Jersey, and have been proposed in New York and Maryland as well.

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