Ban on 'Conversion Therapy' Passes in D.C.

by Nicole Wiesenthal

South Florida Gay News

Wednesday December 31, 2014

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill unanimously passed by City Council Monday, that bans mental health professionals licensed by the city from performing conversion therapy on minors.

The Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2014 stated that practices which chose to perform conversion therapy on minors could face penalties.

Conversion therapy on minors is already banned in New Jersey and California.

Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, said the bill deals a major blow to pro-conversion therapy groups because many have bases in the states where the therapy is now banned.

"The fact that it was banned right in their backyard was pretty devastating to their efforts," he said.

Besen commended the council's decision, and said it means the United States is one step closer to the therapy being banned throughout the country.

"I think it gives a significant momentum to efforts to ban gay therapy," he said. "It's a slow but steady process, but soon this barbaric practice will be banned in all of the most progressive states, and it will filter across the United States."

The bill must clear a 30 day legislative review in Congress before becoming a law which could take up to 60 calendar days.

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network praised the efforts in a statement on Tuesday.

"These actions will protect young people from a practice that studies conducted by major mental health organizations and personal testimony from youth have shown can create dangerous and even life-threatening effects, including depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and suicidal behavior," said Dr. Eliza Byard, executive director.

Supporters of the legislation hope it will follow the course same-sex marriage has taken.

Conversion therapy is still legal for adults under the premise that adults can make responsible decisions, but opponents believe it should be illegal on the premise of fraud and deceptive advertising.

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