Washington Votes To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors Because Of Its "Serious Harm"

On Saturday, the state legislature in Washington passed a bill banning gay conversion therapy for minors. The bill will now be passed to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. If the governor signs the bill as expected, the highly controversial therapy will be outlawed statewide.

The bill, known as Senate Bill 5722, bans licensed therapists from performing "conversion therapy" on individuals under 18 years of age. The document defines conversion therapy as follows:

The bill further notes that "performing conversion therapy on a patient under age eighteen" now constitutes "unprofessional conduct" for any licensed medical professional. In explaining the rationale behind the creation of the bill, the text indicated that "Washington has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth." It further added that the state also has a vested interest in "protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by conversion therapy."

According to HuffPost, the Senate bill mandates that licensed providers who do attempt to perform conversion therapy on minors face serious consequences, including fines, license revocation, or suspension. The bill passed the Washington state senate with 33 votes in favor and 16 against.

As reported by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), multiple medical organizations support the notion that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful. For example, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACP)'s policy on conversion therapy finds that:

The HuffPost also reported that, according to a recent report from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law, around 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the United States have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives. Of those adults surveyed, around 350,000 received therapy while they were minors.

Many advocates praised the state legislature for taking action to ban the practice. According to Pink News, the Human Rights Campaign lauded the legislative branch's efforts and strongly advised Gov. Inslee to sign the bill. Indeed, JoDee Winterhof, HRC's Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, noted via the outlet:

If Gov. Inslee signs the bill into law, Washington will become the 10th state to ban conversion therapy for minors. Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, and Nevada have all already outlawed the practice. The therapy is also prohibited in the nation's capital, Washington D.C., and a bill banning practice is also up for consideration in New Hampshire's State Legislature.