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Frontiers Media: Virginia Lawmakers Propose Bill Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors Print


Created:  Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Lawmakers in Virginia are following in the footsteps of politicians in California, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and most recently Illinois, by introducing a new bill which seeks to ban administering the practice to minors.

Delegate Patrick Hope and Senator Louise Lucas have introduced the bill, which seeks to prohibit conversion therapy for anyone younger than 18. Hope spoke about the justification for the bill, which is supported by modern medical science:

"There is no on-off switch to sexual orientation, and my bill is based on science that is clear evidence that conversion therapy does not work, and there is even some alarming evidence that it is also psychologically harmful."

Virginian Matt Shurka spoke to lawmakers about his experience with conversion therapy aged 16, revealing that he was given Viagra to help him have sex with women, made to watch heterosexual pornography and forbidden from talking to female friends in family in favor of "healthy male bonding":

"My grades started to fall in school. I went to a straight a student to a failing student. I was having depression. I was not able to talk to my mother and sister, even though I would see them everyday."

National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney Samantha Ames applauded the bill in a prepared statement:

"Today, more than ever, it is clear that state legislatures need to step up to the plate to protect LGBT youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of conversion therapy. We commend Delegate Hope and Senator Lucas, as well all the local organizers who have worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Virginian children are able to grow up in communities and families where they are loved for exactly who they are."

The new bill follows a similar bill proposed last year by Hope, which ultimately failed to pass the state House. Hopefully he and Lucas will have more success this year.