Yesterday, the Hawaii Senate passed Senate Bill 2615, a vital piece of legislation that would protect LGBTQ children in Hawaii from the dangerous and discredited practices of so-called “conversion therapy” by a landslide vote of 22 to 2. The bill prohibits state-licensed mental health providers from advertising or providing “conversion therapy” to anyone under the age of eighteen.
California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have all passed laws protecting LGBTQ minors from “conversion therapy” and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. Following executive action from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from “conversion therapy.”
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a federal court decision upholding the constitutionality of New Jersey’s law protecting LGBTQ youth from these practices to stand for the second time. Additionally, HRC, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint with the FTC against a major provider of “conversion therapy.”
“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” are practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization for decades.
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. Use of these dangerous practices lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior, which is why the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association universally criticize them.
HRC worked closely with local advocates, engaged members across the state and submitted testimony in support of Senate Bill 2615. The bill now heads to the Hawaii House of Representatives, where HRC will continue to work to ensure its passage.