East Coast Takes On Anti-Conversion Therapy Efforts

Keisha Lance Bottoms, introduced legislation in opposition to conversion therapy. Image via Diversity Inc.

Conversion therapy, a practice that has been used to make LGBTQ people feel inadequate and defective, is still legal in most of the United States. However, certain states have either already banned the therapy or are on their way to ban it. One such state is North Carolina, in which the state legislature introduced House Bill 516 that would mark conversion therapy as “unprofessional conduct” and anyone who is caught practicing it would lose their license, according to News Observer.  Additionally, the mayor of Atlanta has recently introduced legislation in opposition to conversion therapy as well as the SCOTUS rejecting a challenge to a 2013 New Jersey law that banned conversion therapy.

House Bill 516 opens with the statement that being LGBTQ is “part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, disorder, or illness” and that it recognizes that conversion therapy causes harm to people who undergo it and should be banned. Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality are leading Born Perfect NC, in which a poll was conducted that showed bipartisan support for banning the practice, with eighty percent of respondents immediately said that they were in favor of banning the practice and when others learned more about the implications of the practice changed their answer in favor of banning it. This is definitely a great sign, seeing as North Carolina has frequently been on the opposite side of LGBTQ equality. By having such bipartisan support, the residents of North Carolina are showing that they are opening up to the idea of LGBTQ equality.

Moving further South, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has recently introduced a resolution, which received unanimous support within the city council, that solidifies Atlanta’s opposition to conversion therapy. Bottoms said that Atlanta will always stand for equality and that “State-sanctioned practices that inflict persecution and suffering on LGBTQ individuals – particularly young people – should end immediately.” This, again, is a great thing for LGBTQ equality, as it shows that more and more people, gay or straight, are realizing that LGBTQ people are still people and deserve equal treatment under the law.

Lastly, moving up North to my home state of New Jersey, the Supreme Court today rejected a challenge brought on by the Liberty Counsel, a hate group that I’ve written about before, that attempted to reverse a 2013 law that banned conversion therapy for minors. The law has been challenged by the Liberty Counsel a total of three times in the past, with attempts being made in 2014, 2015, and 2016. I’m proud of my home state to pass legislation to ban conversion therapy and I’m even prouder of the SCOTUS for not allowing the Liberty Counsel to influence New Jersey’s 2013, as a reversal would bring back the faux therapy.

While I focused exclusively on the East Coast in this post, states such as California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, and others have banned conversion therapy as well as many counties in Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin doing the same. It is nice to know that across the country people are opening their eyes and realizing the terrible impacts of conversion therapy on LGBTQ people and are actively taking steps to stop the harmful practice.

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Sources: News Observer, HRC, The GA Voice, NCLEG.org

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