Maryland bans gay conversion therapy for minors
In a historic decision, the state of Maryland has now enacted a law banning medical professionals from offering controversial therapies to supposedly "cure" people of being gay.
History was made on Tuesday, May 15th, when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a bill banning health professionals from practicing “gay conversion therapy” on minors. Maryland is the 11th state in the United States of America to pass such a law. An increasing number of states and municipalities have been passing similar bills.
The law prohibits the practice of trying to change a person's sexual orientation using psychological intervention. The new law will classify the practice as unprofessional conduct. Supporters of the new law have maintained how it is a deceptive and harmful act not to mention, illegal as well.
“I think it’s fantastic because it will save the lives of young people in our state,” said USA Today, quoting Senator Richard Madaleno, a Democrat who sponsored the bill. “For LGBT youth, it is an all-too-prevalent situation, and it’s a significant move forward to say: ‘You know what, be who you are,’”
He also noted that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people. It is believed that the measure could potentially save lives by protecting youths from depression, anxiety and potential suicide by preventing them from being forced to undergo such “therapies”, WFAA reports.
Meagan Simonaire, a Republican Delegate, spoke on the House floor about the trauma she endured when she herself had the “treatment” suggested to her. Simonaire’s parents suggested that she undergo the therapy after she came out to them as bisexual.
“I’m so proud of everyone’s hard work,” Simonaire said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
While Simonaire never went through with the controversial treatment, She revealed to colleagues that just the thought that her parents felt she needed to be “fixed” was enough to send her into a deep depression. She expressed excitement at the governor, a fellow Republican, having signed the bill.
“We know 700,000 people in the United States have been through conversion therapy, and 78,000 teenagers will go through it in the next five years, and this is getting us closer to zero,” said Mathew Shurka, an activist who has been actively campaigning for legislative measures against the pseudoscientific practice.
Shurka has had personal experience with conversion therapy, having been subjected to it for five years between the ages of 16 and 21. The state of Victoria in Australia recently launched an investigation into practitioners of gay conversion.
With the new law, Maryland joins the ranks of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington who also have laws banning “conversion therapy”. The Council of the District of Columbia voted a similar ban in 2014. Recently, New Hampshire and Hawaii have also passed bills on the issue that are awaiting signatures from the respective governors.