NATIONAL NEWS

Michigan Legislature approves ban on ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ+ minors

Jun 28, 2023, 8:04 AM | Updated: 8:50 am

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers gave final approval to legislation banning so-called conversion therapy for minors as Democrats in the state continue to advance a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda in their first months in power.

The legislation would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging youths in the scientifically discredited practice of trying to convert people who are LGBTQ+ to heterosexuality and traditional gender expectations.

The Michigan Senate approved the ban on a 21-15 vote — with one Republican siding with Democrats — late Tuesday after the state House previously approved the legislation. It now awaits final approval by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has previously called the therapy a “dangerous practice.”

Democratic state Rep. Jason Hoskins, a sponsor of the bills, told The Associated Press when the legislation was first introduced that conversion therapy “works on the false premise that LGBTQ+ children are wrong and they need to be fixed.”

“Banning it is just one less thing that LGBTQ children will have to worry about going forward in Michigan,” said Hoskins, who was the first LGBTQ+ person of color elected to the Michigan Legislature.

Michigan Democrats have made it a priority to further protect LGBTQ+ people since they took lawmakers codified LGBTQ+ protections into the state’s civil rights law, permanently outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state.

Republicans spoke out about the ban of conversion therapy on the Senate floor Tuesday night, with speeches often centering on transgender people.

“Hearing a bunch of straight people in the Senate lecture me about the journey of an LGBTQ person is the exact reason we should be banning conversion therapy,” Democratic Sen. Jeremy Moss, the state’s first openly gay state senator, said on the chamber’s floor Tuesday.

Under the bills passed Wednesday, conversion therapy includes any practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. That does not include counseling that provides assistance to people undergoing a gender transition.

The Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community earlier this month in response to what i called an “unprecedented and dangerous” spike in discriminatory legislation sweeping statehouses this year. The organization praised Michigan on Tuesday for passing the ban.

If signed by Whitmer, Michigan will become the 22nd state to ban conversion therapy, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a pro-LGBTQ+ rights think tank. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs issued an executive order Tuesday that prohibits state agencies from using funds to promote or facilitate conversion therapy.

In 2021, Whitmer signed an executive directive prohibiting the use of state and federal funds for conversion therapy on minors and to explore what further actions can be taken to protect minors from the practice.

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