Maryland set to become 11th US state to outlaw gay cure therapy

A bill outlawing gay ‘cure’ therapy for minors is heading to the desk of Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

A growing number of US states are adopting laws to outlaw the practise of gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors.

LGBT activists are hoping that Maryland will be the latest state to follow the trend, after a gay ‘cure’ bill passed through both the state senate and the House of Delegates.

The bill, sponsored by out Senator Richard Madaleno, prohibits licensed mental health or child care practitioners “from engaging in conversion therapy with individuals who are minors” and bans the direction of state funds towards such practises.

It cleared the House this week by a vote of 95-27, after passing the Senate by a vote of 34-12.

Although it sailed through the Democratic-controlled legislature, the bill now heads to the desk of the state’s Republican Governor, Larry Hogan.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (Getty Images for MGM National Harbor)

A spokeswoman for Hogan said the governor supports the bill.

Despite broad opposition to LGBT rights within the GOP, a number of Republican Governors have previously signed bills banning gay ‘cure’ therapy – New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Nevada ‘s Brian Sandoval, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and Bruce Rauner of Illinois.

The Human Rights Campaign, FreeState Justice and WISE this week urged Governor Hogan to sign the bill.

HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said: “All children deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy.

“This dangerous and ​inhumane practice has no basis in science and is ​uniformly rejected by every major mental health ​organisation in the country. We thank the state legislators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth and now call on Governor Hogan to sign this crucially important legislation.”

FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio added: “The Maryland General Assembly has chosen to protect our youth by joining the growing list of states banning conversion therapy.

“These widely discredited and harmful practices have no place here. Governor Hogan’s signature on this legislation will send a message to LGBTQ youth across our state that they are perfect just the way they are.”

Senator Richard Madaleno said:: “No minor should be forced to go through a practice that clearly every reputable health care organization has dismissed as being both ineffective and unethical.

“All it does is create more harm and more anxiety for the young person. I am pleased, and frankly, relieved that this bill has passed: relieved, because this bill will help save so many young people’s lives.”

The bill’s House sponsor, Delegate Bonnie Cullison, said: “I am so grateful and happy to have been a part of this affirmation of our LBGTQ youth.

“Today, with passage of SB 1028, Maryland has made a strong statement that these young people are not broken–they are beautiful! We owe them our support and our protection under the law.”

A map of states where gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors is outlawed

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington all have laws protecting youth from gay ‘cure’ therapy, while bills are pending in a string of other states.

Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided, and often extremely harmful. Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

Outside of the US, performing gay cure therapy on minors is illegal in Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

The UK government has also said it is considering a ban.

The European Parliament last month voted to condemn gay ‘cure’ therapy and urged member countries to ban the harmful practice.

The EU body voted by 435 to 109 to adopt text calling on member states to outlaw the discredited practice.

It says: “[The European Parliament] welcomes initiatives prohibiting LGBTI conversion therapies and banning the pathologisation of trans identities and urges all Member States to adopt similar measures that respect and uphold the right to gender identity and gender expression.”

It is the first time the Parliament has made the specific disavowal of conversion therapies.

The vote came on an amendment to the Parliament’s annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU, which was later adopted.

The Intergroup’s Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP noted that only a small number of EU member countries “have explicitly banned LGBTI conversion therapies” to date.

The MEP continued: “The UN Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Human Rights Committee have already condemned the practice of conversion therapy in several countries.”