US: Maryland Enacts Legislation Protecting LGBTQ Youth from ‘Conversion Therapy’

Yesterday (15th) the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) along with FreeState Justice, a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders, and WISE, claimed victory as Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, signed into law SB 1028 — critical legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’. With Governor Hogan’s signature, Maryland joins the growing number of states and municipalities adopting critical protections for LGBTQ youth.

“No child should ever be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This dangerous and ​inhumane form of child abuse has no basis in science and is ​uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare ​organization. […] Maryland is a better place for countless young people thanks to the many advocates, allies, parents, and survivors who spoke out against this practice and urged their elected officials — Republicans and Democrats alike — to adopt these crucial protections.”

FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio commented:

“In signing this legislation, Governor Hogan joined the General Assembly in choosing to not only protect LGBTQ youth from harm, but to send an affirmation to children across Maryland who may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are perfect as they are.”

SB1028 was introduced in the Maryland State Senate by Senator Richard Madaleno, and in the House of Delegates by Delegate Bonnie Cullison, and passed the legislature with bipartisan support.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people, such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organisation in the US, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin. In addition, lawmakers in New Hampshire and Hawaii recently passed similar protections, which currently await their governors’ signatures.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional, if state officials fail to act.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across America, to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

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