Puerto Rico has banned so-called “conversion therapy” on minors.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed an executive order on Wednesday banning the dangerous and discredited practice that claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The action came after Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives refused to vote on a bill to bar it, which had passed in the Senate.
The House speaker, Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, said he felt there was little evidence the practice was widely used in Puerto Rico. He also claimed members of the House who were critical of the legislation worried the definition of conversion therapy was “too broad” and could be read to include other types of rehabilitation therapy, such as for drug addiction, The New York Times reports.
“I firmly believe that the idea that there are people in our society who need treatment because of their gender identity or whom they love is not only absurd, it is harmful to so many children and young adults who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Gov. Rosselló (below) in a statement.
“The reality is that even if only one young person was put through it, that’s enough because of the harm that we’re causing them and our responsibility to protect minors,” Sen. Zoé Laboy Alvarado, who introduced the legislation, alongside Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, said of the need for a conversion therapy ban.
“Today we take a step forward to raise awareness among the people about this type of practice that causes pain and suffering,” said the governor on Wednesday.
So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have banned the practice on minors. Colorado is set to become the 16th state, as a ban passed there in the House and Senate, and Gov. Jared Polis has said he will sign it into law.
Massachusetts could become the 17th state to join the trend, as today the House is expected to pass a ban which has already cleared the Senate. Gov. Charlie Baker has said he is “inclined to support” it.