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Washington (State)

Bill to prohibit conversion therapy on LGBT youth passes Washington House

Friday, February 14, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state House on Thursday approved a bill aimed at prohibiting health care providers from performing controversial gay-to-straight conversion therapy on LGBT youth.

Washington state capitol in Olympia.

Washington state capitol in Olympia.

House Bill 2451, which passed on a 94-4 vote, would make it an act of “unprofessional conduct” to try to change the sexual orientation of a patient under 18. That would include efforts to change behaviors, gender expressions or to reduce sexual or romantic attractions toward people of the same sex.

Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said regardless of personal beliefs, all youth should be protected.

“As a Christian person, I can’t stand by and watch someone be put through a tortuous practice to change a behavior,” he said.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins spoke of a friend who was institutionalized and given shock treatments as a teenager after telling her parents she was a lesbian.

“This bill is about recognizing human dignity of all our kids,” said Jinkins, a Democrat from Tacoma.

The measure would fall under the Uniform Disciplinary Act, which includes acts of unprofessional conduct such as negligence, dishonesty, misuse of drugs or alcohol and betrayal of practitioner-patient privilege. Disciplinary authorities could sanction a health-care provider found to be engaging in gay conversion efforts.

Sanctions could range from a fine to probation to mandatory remedial education to license revocation.

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Psychotherapies providing “acceptance, support and understanding” would be exempt from the measure. It also would not apply to speech, religious practices or counseling not considered efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation.

Similar restrictions have been enacted in California and New Jersey, but the California ban was placed on hold earlier this month after the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted opponents’ request for a stay while they seek a Supreme Court review.

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.

A bill in Virginia was defeated by a House committee.

The Washington bill now heads to the Senate.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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18 more reader comments:

  1. Sad we have to have Bills like this

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:33pm
  2. I know. How do you celebrate something like this? "Yay! We're marginally better than being total monsters!"

    Replied on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5:15pm
  3. Fuck ya!!!!

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:34pm
  4. Feels like we take two steps forward and one step back, but we’re inching along.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:37pm
  5. Doesn’t seem right to take rights away. Who are they to decide.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:43pm
  6. uh, screw you. conversion therapy is torture. it doesn't work. We can't prevent gullable/desperate adults from trying it I guess but we can protect innocent kids from it.

    Replied on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5:28pm
  7. I agree, it only hurts the person in the long run.

    Replied on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 8:46pm
  8. gentle

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:57pm
  9. Rights from who? The parents.. please..

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:58pm
  10. This is good news, this bill is to prevent the ignorant, bigot therapy to try to CONVERT GAY people to straight.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5:04pm
  11. this is a no-brainer – n’est pas

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5:15pm
  12. I AM TRANSGENDER AND PROUD. PROUD OF ALL MY GLBTQ FOLKS. FUCK THE CHRISTIANS AND THEIR PETTY ASS BELIEFS.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5:21pm
  13. Thank god people are stepping up and doing the right thing. Conversion therapy doesn’t work and only causes trauma.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5:32pm
  14. That’s a no-brainer!!

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 6:07pm
  15. Thank fucking god!

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 6:14pm
  16. Well done Washington House – Well done.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 7:23pm
  17. Passed in CA and NJ. I hope this trend continues.

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 7:32pm
  18. Fuck yeah we’re over coming

    Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 8:07pm