North Carolina governor signs order to clamp down on gay cure therapy

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper has signed an executive order seeking to tackle conversion therapy.

Cooper signed an order on Friday (August 3)  to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are used for conversion therapy for minors.

The governor, a Democrat who unseated anti-LGBT Republican Pat McCrory in 2016, said: “Conversion therapy has been shown to pose serious health risks, and we should be protecting all of our children, including those who identify as LGBTQ, instead of subjecting them to a dangerous practice.”

The action marks the first time a Southern state has ever taken statewide action on conversion therapy.

The order extends to the limits of Cooper’s executive powers as governor, with any further action requiring approval from the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

LGBT+ groups praise ‘step in right direction’

LGBT+ campaigners have welcomed the action.

Kendra R. Johnson of Equality NC, said: “It’s gratifying to see Governor Cooper take this critical step in the right direction.

“No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity; we’re grateful that Gov. Cooper agrees. We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections.”

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper speaks during Get Out the Vote at The Fillmore Charlotte on November 6, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper speaks during Get Out the Vote at The Fillmore Charlotte on November 6, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Jeff Hahne/Getty)

Allison Scott of the Campaign for Southern Equality added: “Governor Cooper’s order will create a safer North Carolina for LGBTQ youth.

“Young LGBTQ people who endure ‘conversion therapy’ are at an immensely higher risk for depression and suicide than those whose identities are affirmed, a primary reason that we must do all we can to end this dangerous pseudoscience.

“As we continue our campaign to end conversion therapy once and for all, we’re looking forward to working across North Carolina to share a message of love and affirmation.

“We have the momentum, and now it’s time to amplify the voices of North Carolinians everywhere who are taking action to protect our youth.”

However, campaigners want to see clearer action from the state’s legislature.

JoDee Winterhof of Human Rights Campaign said: “We look forward to working alongside our partners to pass a law – similar to those enacted in 18 other states – that would cover all state-licensed professionals working with minors.

“For North Carolina to be a leader in the South, the governor and the legislature must prioritise full LGBTQ equality.”

North Carolina has troubled history on LGBT+ issues

Cooper has sought to strike a decidedly different tone from predecessor Pat McCrory, who was ejected from office by voters after sparking controversy by signing an anti-LGBT law.

The state lost a string of big investment ventures after McCrory signed HB2, which voided all local ordinances protecting LGBT rights, banned transgender people from using their preferred bathroom, and permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the grounds of religious belief.

McCrory narrowly lost his re-election battle to Cooper on the same day that the state swung to Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, indicating that voters split their ballots to remove the then-governor.

HB2 was ultimately part-repealed under a deal reached between Cooper and state Republicans.