Maryland governor signs conversion therapy bill into law

Ceria Alfonso
May 17, 2018

Matthew Shurka, a survivor of conversion therapy who now works with the National Center for Lesbian Rights on its #BornPerfect campaign to ban conversion therapy in all states by the end of 2019, hailed the bill's passage.

The law is "a victory in our fight to protect LGBTQ young people everywhere from this risky and discredited practice", said The Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley. Meagan Simonaire (R), who said that her father, who is a state senator, pushed for her to go through gay conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy is ineffective, according to several national health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Practitioners of "conversion therapy" claim to be able to change the sexual orientation of LGBT people.

Del. Meagan Simonaire, a Republican, pictured above, spoke on the House floor about how her parents recommended conversion therapy in an attempt to "fix her" when she came out as bisexual.

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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. Lawmakers in New Hampshire and Hawaii have passed similar bills that are awaiting their governors' signatures.

FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio added: "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. LGBTQ youth are ideal as they are and are deserving of every opportunity to help them thrive". Their respective governors are expected to sign the bills into law.

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington also have laws on the books, as well as the District of Columbia.

Advocates vowed to keep working until the anti-gay treatment is banned in all 50 states.

"I think it's fantastic, because it will save the lives of young people in our state", he told USA Today on Tuesday.

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