Michigan governor signs conversion therapy ban into law: ‘A champion for LGBTQ+ equality’

Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Governor, smiles as she speaks into two microphones.

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has been heralded by activists and human rights groups after signing a ban on conversion therapy in the state.

The Democratic governor signed two sweeping bills into effect during a legislative ceremony on Wednesday (26 July), which will outlaw the sham procedures across the Great Lakes state.

Conversion therapy refers to valueless attempts to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity. The practice is often faith-based, especially in the US and the UK.

“As a mom of a member of the community, and a proud, life-long ally, I’m grateful that today we’re banning the horrific practice of conversion therapy in Michigan,” Whitmer wrote on Twitter.

“In doing so, we are taking action to make Michigan a more welcoming, inclusive place.”

Both bills, which prohibit mental-health practitioners practising or prescribing conversion therapy sessions, passed the state Senate by a vote of 21 to 15, with one Republican member joining Democrats to support the legislation.

You may like to watch

It is expected to come into force 90 days after the legislature adjourns, due to the lack of Republican support for it to take immediate effect.

“By signing the conversion therapy ban into law today, governor Whitmer continued to demonstrate that she is a champion for LGBTQ+ equality,” Human Rights Campaign legal vice-president Sarah Warbelow said.

“So-called conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that will hopefully never see the light of day here in Michigan.

“We thank everyone whose advocacy efforts made today possible, including the healthcare community, state and local LGBTQ+ organisations and pro-equality legislators.”

Whitmer’s signing of the bill is just the latest in her commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

In March, she made Michigan the first state in the US to implement LGBTQ+ protections after signing the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) amendments into effect.

The bill offers increased protection to LGBTQ+ people from both systemic and social discrimination.

“We are taking a long overdue step to ensure that no one can be fired from their job or evicted from their home because of who they are or how they identify,” Whitmer said after signing the earlier legislation.

Equality Michigan executive director Erin Knott said at the time that the governor had “demonstrated unwavering commitment” to the well-being of LGBTQ+ people.

“By affirming that LGBTQ+ youth should be embraced, supported and loved for exactly who they are, Michigan is paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive future for everyone who lives, works and visits here,” she added.

Despite the good news in Michigan, legislatures in other states have been busy attempting to repeal the rights of the queer community.

The Human Rights Campaign has reportedly opposed more than 570 anti-LGBTQ+ bills across various state capitols since the beginning of the year. Of those, 82 have been enacted into law.

These include 132 gender-affirming care bans either for trans youth or adults, 30 anti-trans bathroom bills, more than 100 curriculum censorship bills and 44 targeting drag performances.

Meanwhile, a survey of 1,220 US voters published by human rights group Data For Progress found that 72 per cent of Democrats, 55 per cent of Republicans and 65 per cent of independents believe the amount of legislation against LGBTQ+ people to be excessive.