Massachusetts Bans Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors
On Monday, Massachusetts became the 16th state to pass law HR140 after GOP Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill. The proposal prevents health care providers from changing the “sexual orientation and gender identity” of any patient younger than 18 years of age.
Massachusetts’ Democratic State Representative, Kay Khan, believed that, “[a]t last, LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts are now finally protected from harmful and abusive practices.” And also praised Massachusetts for being a “trailblazer” in the advancement of Civil and LGBTQ rights.
MA has always been a trailblazer in advancing #CivilRights and prohibiting discrimination for the #LGBTQ 🏳️🌈 community in healthcare. This bill is a necessary extension of those historic commitments! #MAPoli pic.twitter.com/GJtbbWwzvX
— Kay Khan (@repkaykhan) March 13, 2019
Also known as “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay therapy,” conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Arline Isaacson, co-chair of Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said, “[b]eing LGBTQ is not an illness or a disease that needs to be cured.”
Isaacson also believes conversion therapy to be “fraudulent treatments” and are “cruel and barbaric.” He praised Baker and lawmakers for “moving so quickly to ban conversion therapy for minors.”
Meanwhile, critics threaten to sue the state over the law. The Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes the bill plans to “pursue legal action,” claiming the law denies “critical mental health treatment to sexually confused youth.”
Although the bill gained 147-8 vote in the House and 34-0 in the Senate, some Republicans still believe it to be unconstitutional. Echoing the views of Beckwith, Republicans “pushed for an order asking the state Supreme Judicial Court to provide an advisory opinion on whether the measure was constitutional.”
The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention organization, published a study in 2018, that showed that patients who undergo conversion therapy are more likely to attempt suicide. The organization believes that the “bipartisan support for this legislation sends a powerful message to law makers around the country that this abusive practice must end.”