Boston, MA– Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill on Monday afternoon banning LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors. The proposal was recently passed by wide margins in the state's Democrat-controlled House and Senate. Massachusetts is now the 16th U.S. state to pass a conversion therapy ban.
The medically discredited practice of conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other non-heterosexual, non-cisgender individuals. The dubious treatments attempt to "convert" the person to the heterosexual gender identity they were assigned at birth. Critics of conversion therapy point to the ineffectiveness of the "treatment" and the harmful outcomes for LGBTQ children, including increased risk of suicide and higher rates of depression.
It does not come as a surprise that Baker signed the bill when it landed on his desk, as he has said before that he would support a ban on conversion therapy. In response to the ban, the conservative group Massachusetts Family Institute has threatened to bring the decision to court. According to the Institute, the conversion therapy ban violates First Amendment rights for freedom of speech. Those opposed to the ban also claim that it will impact religious leaders in their attempts to counsel people who are seeking their help on the matter of sexual identity.
Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors, celebrated the protection for LGBTQ youth, saying that conversion therapy is fraudulent, cruel, and barbaric. WBUR quoted Isaacson saying, “The bottom line of it is, being LGBTQ is not an illness, it’s not a disease that needs to be cured, and these treatments are tantamount to child abuse, and we’re thrilled they’re finally going to ban the practice.”
The ban that was signed into law on Monday afternoon will prevent state-licensed health care providers from “advertising or engaging in sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts with a patient who is less than 18 years of age,” according to WBUR. So far, this ban has been implemented in fourteen other states, plus the District of Columbia.