Maryland Bans Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

Maryland Is Officially the 11th State to Ban Conversion Therapy After Governor Signs Law

Today, HRC, along with FreeState Justice, a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders, and WISE claimed victory as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law SB 1028 - critical legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from the unsafe and debunked practice of so-called "conversion therapy".

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

However, before it could be made into law, Governor Larry Hogan was required to approve the bill.

Among those who backed the bill was Delegate Meagan Simonaire, who, in an impassioned speech on the state Senate floor April, said that her father, state senator Bryan Simonaire, pushed her to go through gay conversion therapy.

"No child should ever be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called 'conversion therapy, '" said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement calling the treatment "dangerous and inhumane". "This unsafe and inhumane form of child abuse has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare organization". To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior.

Supporters of the ban note the therapy is widely discredited by medical and mental health associations. Any attempt to "cure" the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ minors under the age of 18 will henceforth be classified as "unprofessional conduct".

Hogan's signature makes the Free State the 13th jurisdiction to take steps to curb the practice.

New York State has tinkered with regulations to ensure the practice can not be covered by health insurance, as a way to circumvent its Republican-run State Senate.

Legislators in New Jersey and Hawaii have also passed bills banning the practise, but the measure has yet to be signed into law. "LGBTQ youth are ideal as they are and are deserving of every opportunity to help them thrive".

There is still much work to do when it comes to combating "conversion therapy" - numerous new laws banning it only apply to youth, and the majority of states operate without any limits on the practice.

"By sharing our stories, survivors like Meagan Simonaire and myself can help change hearts and minds to protect LGBTQ youth".

"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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