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Mich. lawmaker introduces bill to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan lawmakers may soon consider whether to ban the controversial practice of gay-to-straight conversion therapy on minors.

Mich. state lawmaker Adam F. Zemke

Mich. state lawmaker Adam F. Zemke

Legislation was introduced last week by state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) that would amend Michigan’s mental health code to prohibit health professionals from attempting to change the sexual orientation of anyone under 18 years old, reports MLive.

“The evidence shows you cannot change sexual orientation, so the legislation was kind of a no-brainer,” Zemke said. “We want to make sure children cannot be exposed to situations that are emotionally harmful to them because of their parents’ beliefs or desires to try to change their orientation.”

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative or ex-gay therapy, has been widely discredited by leading medical organizations.

The American Psychological Association, in a 2009 report, said that attempts to change sexual orientation are ineffective and can have harmful side effects on subjects, including depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety. It urged mental health professionals to avoid the practice.

California and New Jersey have similar statewide bans on conversion therapy for minors, and both have survived various legal challenges.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand an August 2013 appeals court ruling that said California’s ban covered professional activities that are within the state’s authority to regulate and doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.

The Michigan bill has 13 co-sponsors in the state House. It has been referred to the Committee on Health Policy.

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