DC bill against gay conversion therapy becomes law

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Washington DC has become the third jurisdiction to ban gay-to-straight conversion therapy in the US.

Passed unanimously by the District of Colombia Council in December of last year, the act became law on 11 March following its review by Congress.

DC now joins California and New Jersey in passing legislation protecting minors against undergoing conversion therapy.

The ‘Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act’ prohibits the practice of “sexual orientation change efforts” that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The law permits the imposition of fines and other penalties on licensed therapists and other mental health practitioners who attempt to change the sexual orientation of people under the age of 18 from gay-to-straight.

“These actions will protect young people from a practice that studies conducted by major mental health organizations and personal testimony from youth have shown can create dangerous and even life-threatening effects, including depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and suicidal behavior”, commented GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.

Religious groups have argued that it discriminates against youth who want to change their sexual orientation and who willingly choose to undergo the therapy.

This law comes after other states passed similar legislation banning conversion therapies.

In 2013 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s ban on gay cure therapies and in December last year the 3rd Circuit upheld a similar law in New Jersey.