Maine votes to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy

Maine has voted to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy, as the tidal wave of states outlawing the practice continues to gain pace.

The bill, which is sponsored by gay state Representative Ryan Fecteau, prohibits licensed medical and mental health practitioners from trying to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Maine is tantalisingly close to joining Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Washington DC in banning the practice.

However, the bill did not receive enough support to avoid a potential veto from Republican Governor Paul LePage, who has not yet clarified whether he will allow it to pass into law.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Maine Governor Paul LePage listens to U.S. President Donald Trump during meeting with state and local officials to unveil the Trump administration's long-awaited infrastructure plan in the State Dining Room at the White House February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The $1.5 trillion plan to repair and rebuild the nation's crumbling highways, bridges, railroads, airports, seaports and water systems is funded with $200 million in federal money with the remaining 80 percent coming from state and local governments. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Maine Governor Paul LePage has a controversial record on LGBT rights (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

In 2016, the Governor refused to apologise to a lawmaker who he called a “socialist c**ksucker” in an abusive voicemail.

LePage has also moved to block guidelines protecting transgender students in the past.

Marty Rouse, Human Rights Campaign’s national field director, emphasised the importance of LePage’s decision, saying: “This critically important legislation will help ensure children in Maine are not subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse.

“It’s now imperative that fair-minded people across the state contact Governor LePage’s office and urge him to sign this bill protecting LGBTQ youth or allow it to become law.

PORTLAND, ME - AUGUST 04: Maine Governor Paul LePage, (R), greets the crowd before Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Merrill Auditorium on August 4, 2016 in Portland, Maine. (Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

Activists have pleaded with Governor LePage to sign the bill into law (Sarah Rice/Getty)

“Other Republican Governors across the country — including most recently in neighbouring New Hampshire — have signed similar bipartisan legislation, and it’s vital for Maine’s LGBTQ youth that Governor LePage does the same.”

Matt Moonen, the executive director of LGBT campaign group Equality Maine, said: “We are pleased that both chambers of the legislature have finally passed these needed protections for LGBTQ youth in Maine.

“We call upon the governor not to veto this needed bill that can save lives.”

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

The bill “can save lives,” activists have said (Pexels)

Earlier this year, the European Parliament 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.

The text said that the body “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.”

Children are at risk (Pexels)

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.