Conversion Therapy- Banning the Practice with the Newest Bill

  1. Jill Andrews
  2. July 18, 2017 8:21 am

Conversion Therapy- Banning the Practice with the Newest Bill


Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that is intended to ban “conversion therapy” treatments, a practice that has targeted the LGBTQ community. Conversion therapy claims that certain forms of therapy can change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court rejected a challenge aimed at the ban for minors, allowing a lower federal court ruling to stand that upheld the state law that was passed in 201.

Conversion therapy is commonly referred to as “ex-gay therapy” or “reparative therapy”. They are both highly controversial and have been decried by dozens of medical, mental health and LGBTQ groups as being misleading and harmful. However, many attempts to ban the practice altogether have been met with resistance from conservative religious groups. These groups argue that these bans infringe on their First Amendment rights. The debate is still in the spotlight ever since Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill last week that aims to ban the practice of conversion therapy for anyone under 18 years of age.

According to a report by the American Psychological Association in 2009, conversion therapy started back in the mid-19th century. In those times, gay men and women were considered to have a medical problem and many viewed the act as criminal. Homosexuality was first introduced as a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (more commonly known as the DSM) in 1952. In a 1965 issue of Time magazine, an article was published entitled “Homosexuals Can Be Cured”. Samuel Hadden, a professor who was interviewed and quoted in the article, claimed to have been able to change the preferences of gay men who were participants in his group psychotherapy.

Many different and even painful approaches have been used to change one’s sexuality ever since. Electric shock therapy was used by many therapists, as was the induction of nausea, paralysis or vomiting if the patient was having “same-sex erotic” feelings or thoughts for someone in the gay directory. Some gay men and women were told to snap a rubber band that they would wear 24/7 on their wrist whenever they were attracted to another member of the same sex. And while many gay rights leaders actively resisted these treatments, they were still used from the 1960s through the 1970s. However, in1973 the DSM removed homosexuality as a disorder after many psychiatric groups re-evaluated the literature.

Seven states in the country, along with the District of Columbia, have been successful in passing legislation that banned and/or restricted conversion therapy. In 2012, California became the first state to do so. Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico and Vermont followed. However, many conservative Christian groups are still in support of conversion therapy. Many in the LGBTQ community have questioned whether these groups are more likely to succeed with the current presidency in force.

In 2013, Governor Chris Christie became the first Republican governor to sign a conversion therapy bill banning the practice from being performed on minors. Chad Griffin, the Human Rights Campaign president, applauded this congressional proposal concerning the gay directory.