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Northam signs bill to ban gay conversion therapy on minors in Virginia

Posted at 2:52 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 19:05:59-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam has signed legislation that would ban gay conversion therapy on minors in Virginia.

Conversion therapy, which has been discredited as a practice by multiple major medical associations, attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through intensive counseling.

House Bill 386, sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope, would ban a licensed counselor from practicing conversation therapy on a patient younger than 18 years old, and if a complaint was filed, the licensed health care provider could face disciplinary actions.

“Conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are,” said Northam. “No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are—especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”

The American Psychiatric Association strongly opposes conversation therapy, saying “same-sex orientation should or needs to be changed, and efforts to do so represent a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and by undermining self-esteem when sexual orientation fails to change.”

Children who undergo the practice are at higher risk for suicide, APA research shows.

The conversion therapy bill was one of 68 pieces of legislation Northam announced Tuesday that has been signed into law. Click here for the full list.