Hawaii Governor David Ige urged to sign bill banning gay ‘cure’ therapy

The Governor of Hawaii has been urged to sign a bill outlawing gay ‘cure’ therapy.

The US state could become the latest to outlaw the use of so-called conversion therapy to attempt to change the sexuality of minors.

Performing gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors is already is illegal in 10 US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

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.

The Hawaii legislature this week gave final approval to a bill which bans efforts to “engage in or attempt to engage in sexual orientation change efforts on a person under 8 years of age.”

It sailed through the Democrat-dominated legislature with just two votes against, from Republican leaders Gene Ward and Bob McDermott.

The bill now heads to the desk of Hawaii Governor David Ige.

Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said: “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is nothing short of child abuse with life-threatening consequences for countless LGBTQ youth.

“It is time Hawaii join the growing number of states who are enacting laws to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous and discredited practice. We thank the state legislators for passing this critical bill and urge Governor Ige to quickly sign it into law.”

In the Senate the bill passed by a vote of 24-1.

The lone vote against was Democratic Senator Mike Gabbard, the head of the so-called Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, who previously waged a campaign to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

The bill notes: “The American Psychological Association convened a task force on appropriate therapeutic responses to sexual orientation.

“The task force conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts. The task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to be successful and involve risk of harm to lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, including depression, suicidality, loss of sexual feeling, anxiety, shame, negative self-image, and other negative feelings and behaviours.

“The legislature further finds that children and adolescents who participate in these types of sexual orientation change efforts, which often use fear-based techniques, are given inaccurate scientific information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and are also at risk of increased self-stigma and psychological distress.”

It adds: “The legislature additionally finds that sexual orientation change efforts are opposed by the country’s leading medical and mental health professional organisations, including the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“The purpose of this Act is to protect the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts by regulating the conduct of specific state-licensed persons who provide professional counselling to minors under the age of eighteen and prohibiting these professionals from engaging in, attempting to engage in, or advertising the offering of sexual orientation change efforts on persons under eighteen years of age.”

The Hawaii state capitol (Creative Commons)

HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad said: “We thank the state senators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy.

“Children across the Aloha State deserve to live their lives authentically​, and they deserve to know that they are not broken or ill because of who they are.”

A string of states have proposed laws on the issue, which have overwhelming backing from Democrats but are still largely opposed by GOP politicians.

A bill was greenlit in Washington state in March.

The European Parliament earlier this year 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 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.”