Massachusetts has banned the debunked and harmful practice of conversion therapy.
The bill was signed into law on Monday by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker (below), preventing health care providers from attempting to change anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling if they are under 18.
The legislation passed with overwhelming majorities in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate before reaching Baker’s desk. Massachusetts is now the 16th state to ban conversion therapy, along with Washington, D.C.
“Being LGBTQ is not a disease that requires a cure,” said Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors, in a statement last month. “These fraudulent treatments often lead patients to depression, substance abuse, self-harm and suicidality.”
Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith said the group would challenge the ban in court, claiming it denies mental health treatment to sexually confused youth, and arguing it violates First Amendment free speech rights, reports NBC Boston.
Equality Massachusetts celebrated the news on Twitter, thanking the bill’s supporters, including Rep. Kay Khan, Sen. Julian Cyr, Sen. Karen Spilka, and Rep. Bob DeLeo.
We sincerely thank @repkaykhan, @JulianCyr, @KarenSpilka and @SpeakerDeLeo for their leadership and support. We also thank our coalition partners who worked so hard to pass this bill, and our supporters who took action to protect MA youth.
— MassEquality (@massequality) April 8, 2019