News (USA)

Mike Pence’s home state seeks to be the next to ban so-called “conversion therapy”

Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaks to supporters at a rally in Chesterfield, Missouri
Former Indiana Gov. and Vice President Mike Pence has voiced support for conversion therapy in the past. Photo: Shutterstock

Lawmakers in Indiana are considering a ban on “conversion therapy,” or any practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Bill 32 and House Bill 1213, if passed, would “make anti-LGBTQ practices illegal” and “penalize businesses and Hoosiers who participate in [the] debunked conspiracy theory,” the Stonewall Democrats announced today.

Related: Donald Trump names owner of conversion therapy practice to disabilities advisory post

The measures were introduced by out state senator J.D. Ford (D) and state Rep. Sue Errington (D) respectively. Similar bills were proposed in 2019, but did not receive full consideration by either legislative body at the time.

According to GLAAD, LGBTQ people who are subjected to “therapy” practices are eight times more likely to report that they contemplated suicide. LGBTQ people subjected to the practices are also nearly six times more likely to be severely depressed.

By law, so-called “conversion therapy” is already banned from practice on minors in 20 states, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Three others — Georgia, Florida, and Alabama — are in a judicial circuit where the practice is currently prevented by previous rulings, and only parts of North Carolina have outlawed the practice.

But only one state in the Midwest has the “therapy” outlawed currently: Illinois. Indiana seeks to become the second.

“Putting a stop to this harmful and detrimental practice can save the lives of countless LGBTQ Hoosiers,” Ford said in a statement. “Our state has the chance to end this harmful and detrimental practice this year. A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not a disease that needs cured.”

He added, “In fact, every major medical and mental health organization in our country has condemned the use of ‘conversion therapy’… there is no financial risk to our state government for approving this legislation, so why not do this?”

Errington cited a “transgender friend of mine from Delaware County” as an influencing factor for her introducing the bill in the state House. “Most Hoosiers have never heard of ‘conversion therapy’ or think that it doesn’t happen here, but it does,” she said.

“I personally know some of my constituents were subjected to ‘conversion therapy’ as children and are concerned about its use on young people today.”

The Stonewall Democrats note that banning “conversion therapy” has had mainstream support for some time, they became more popular after former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence became Vice President in 2017. Pence previously defended conversion therapy as far back as 2000.

If proposed, a mental health provider who tries to use conversion therapy on minors would be “subject… to disciplinary action,” the senate summary reads.

Both proposals will be read this month and referred to committees in the upcoming legislative session.

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