Officials in Anchorage, Alaska, just took a pivotal step to protect LGBTQ youth.
This Wednesday, August 26, the city assembly voted 9-2 to ban so-called “conversion therapy” for minors, Anchorage Daily News reports. The new law only applies to licensed medical professionals, so religious leaders can technically evade the $500 fine. But advocates say the decision marks a sign of progress in the Last Frontier State: To date, the city of some 291,000 is the only municipality in Alaska to have taken a stand against the debunked practice.
BREAKING: AO 2020-65 of Anchorage Alaska has been passed 9-2 effectively banning conversion therapy of minors. All Assembly Members voted for the ordinance save for Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy.
— Lillian Lennon (@mslillianlennon) August 27, 2020
Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by medical professionals and LGBTQ activists alike. Survivors are often left with potentially deadly repercussions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Back in July, the United Nations’ independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity called for a global ban on the harmful practice. Even U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a controversial Conservative Party leader, has described conversion therapy as “absolutely abhorrent” and promised to ban it nationwide.
In a media statement, Sam Brinton of The Trevor Project, the nation’s leading suicide prevention group for LGBTQ youth, applauded Anchorage for voting to outlaw conversion therapy. The group worked closely with Anchorage assembly members Felix Rivera and Christopher Constant to support the ordinance.
“According to data from The Trevor Project’s new national survey, LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not,” Brinton added. “From Alaska to Maine, The Trevor Project is working in cities and counties across the country to protect LGBTQ young people from this dangerous and discredited practice.”
On the state level, just 19 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia have laws on the books barring or restricting conversion therapy. But that number more than doubles when factoring in local laws. According to The Trevor Project, only 10 states in America have yet to introduce any sort of legislation against conversion therapy.