Rhode Island becomes 10th state to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy

The governor of Rhode Island signed into law Wednesday a measure that bans widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors, the 10th state in the nation with such a prohibition.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, announced on Twitter she signed the measure via a retweet of a Human Rights Campaign sticker declaring “victory for LGBT youth in Rhode Island.”

“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy,” Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement. “Medical professionals agree this outdated and discredited practice not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse.”

The bill, HB 5277 was approved by the Rhode Island Assembly in May by a 69-0 unanimous vote and the Senate last month before it reached Raimondo’s desk for her signature.

Raimando’s signature not only makes Rhode Island the 10th state in the country in addition to D.C. with a ban on conversion therapy, but also makes the state the fourth this year to ban the practice for youth.

The ten states with bans on conversion therapy are: Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and now Rhode Island. (New York’s ban is the result of an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, not a legislative ban.) The four states that banned “ex-gay” therapy this year are Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island.

The practice of therapy aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender status is considered ineffectual at best and harmful at worst. Major medical and psychological institutions, including the American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, widely reject conversion therapy.

Federal courts have upheld bans on conversion therapy as constitutional despite legal challenges on the basis they violate freedoms of speech and religion. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a challenge to California’s prohibition on “ex-gay” therapy for youth.

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