Delaware bans gay ‘cure’ therapy on children

Delaware has become the fourteenth state to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy.

Democratic Governor John Carney signed the bill into law on Monday, meaning that licensed mental health professionals will no longer be allowed to subject children to the discredited practice.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Washington DC have already banned gay ‘cure’ therapy.

DOVER, DE - JUNE 5: Delaware Governor John Carney prepares to address the media before placing the first bet at Dover Downs Casino on June 5, 2018 in Dover, Delaware. Delaware is the first state to launch legal sports betting since the Supreme Court decision. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Governor Carney became the fourteenth governor to sign a gay cure therapy ban (Mark Makela/Getty)

Maine would have become the fourteenth state to outlaw the practice, but despite being voted through the state’s House and Senate, Republican Governor Paul LePage vetoed the bill.

The Delaware law also stops the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families from directing families to conversion therapy, according to The Hill.

The bill was voted through the state Senate by 12-3 in May 2017, and the state House passed it by a vote of 24-14 last month.

Gay cure therapy is still permitted in more than 30 states (Pexels)

Democratic Representative Debra Heffernan, one of the bill’s sponsors, welcomed the news, saying: “Conversion Therapy is pseudoscience and child endangerment, plain and simple.”

The Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary Sarah McBride, who is from Delaware, said: “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is dangerous, cruel and uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare organisation.

“Today’s signing is a critical step forward in the fight to ensure that Delaware is a safe and affirming state for all LGBTQ youth, and we hope that the values and progress reflected in this law guide the ongoing conversation in Delaware about protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination.”

Democratic Representative Heffernan said that “conversion therapy is pseudoscience and child endangerment, plain and simple” (Pexels)

Mark Purpura, a board member of Equality Delaware, hailed the law, saying: “This bill sends an important message that a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity is neither capable of being changed nor does it need to be changed, and efforts to try to do so in the name of therapy have no place in our state.

“Instead, we should strive to understand and support each child’s unique personal identity to better empower them to thrive in school, at home, and in our community.”

Writing on Twitter, Governor Carney said: “All Delawareans, including Delaware children, deserve to be respected for who they are, and I was proud to sign Senate Bill 65 into law today.

“Discredited practices like conversion therapy have no place in Delaware.

“I’m thankful for the legislators and advocates who moved SB 65 forward,” he added.

“Thank you specifically to Rep. Heffernan and Sen. McDowell for their leadership on this important issue, and to all members of the General Assembly who voted to make this new law a reality.”

Performing gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors is also illegal in 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.

Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide (Pexels)

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 was the first time the Parliament had made the specific disavowal of conversion therapies.