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Va. House panel kills bill banning conversion therapy for LGBT youth

Thursday, January 30, 2014
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RICHMOND — A Virginia House of Delegates committee killed off proposed legislation Thursday that would have banned controversial gay-to-straight conversion therapy for LGBT youth.

Virginia state capitol in Richmond.

Virginia state capitol in Richmond.

After hours of testimony from supporters and opponents of the proposed ban, members of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions subcommittee killed the bill on a 4-1 party line vote.

The language of the bill only dealt with licensed therapists treating people under 18. Adults seeking the treatment still would have been free to do so.

Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County, Va.), the bill’s sponsor, said he believes the therapy will eventually be banned for children in Virginia, as it is currently in California and New Jersey.

“Hearts and minds are changing on this sexual orientation issue every day,” he said. “One day this will be the law in Virginia.… It’s time we had this conversation.”

Lawmakers in Maryland, Minnesota and New York have also introduced legislation to prohibit the use of conversion therapy, also referred to as reparative therapy, on LGBT youth. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania’s lawmakers introduced similar measures last year.

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Nationally, the fight against reparative therapy has been met with push back from faith activists who say the bill limits freedom of religion and speech.

Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County, Md.) who authored the Maryland bill noted that “major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have recognized that being gay is not a disease or a choice.”

“It is not something you can change with any therapy. Attempting to change sexual orientation with ‘therapy’ does a child far more harm than good,” he said.

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court refused to reconsider its ruling upholding California’s ban on the practice.

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