Poll: Majority of Virginians think ex-gay therapy on minors should be illegal
A new poll is out showing Virginians disapprove of a controversial, debunked medical treatment targeted at LGBTQ youth.
The survey, conducted by Florida-based Gravis Marketing, surveyed 1,728 registered voters across party lines and asked, among election 2016-related questions, “Do you think that gay conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation should be legal or illegal for minors in Virginia?”
64 percent said they believe it should be illegal. while 13 percent said they supported it and 23 percent were unsure.
“Our research team wanted to ask that question,” said Doug Kaplan, Gravis Marketing Managing Partner. ”A few states have put a ban on the practice and we wanted to see what the opinion was in a few swing states.”
Conversion or ex-gay therapy has made headlines over the last few General Assembly sessions as progressive legislators have tried to ban the practice. Three states, New Jersey, California and Oregon have banned the practice in the last few years, meanwhile, here in the Commonwealth the fight continues.
This year’s GA featured heated testimony from people on both sides of the issue.
Mathew Shurka, a New York Native who was in ex-gay therapy from the age of 16 to 21 and now advocates against the practice with the #BornPerfect campaign, said it was not uncommon for folks to take their life during treatment.
“I was in camp in Charlottesville,” he said about a short stint in a conversation therapy camp called Journey to Manhood located about 50 miles outside of RVA. “Not everyone walked out alive.”
Shurka has been involved in fighting ex-gay therapy since he abandoned the treatment, and he is unafraid to share some of the darker parts of his time at ex-gay camps, including “masturbation therapy” where he was forced to take viagra and watch straight porn, and being kept from his mother and sister for three years to avoid picking up feminine traits.
Meanwhile, John Linder, who claimed ex-gay therapy worked for him despite still not being attracted to women, defended the practice saying it helped him resolve his conflict between sexual attractions and faith.
“I found it liberating,” Linder said. “I wasn’t trying to change from something I was to something I wasn’t, it was the opposite of that.”
During the bill’s Senate hearing Senator Carrico (R-40) compared being gay to cancer and offered ex-gay therapy as a kind of chemo treatment.
“If I have a child who has cancer, there’s a chance we can cure that cancer with chemo therapy rather than watch that child suffer… it is a form of therapy, the chemo therapy, and to know it goes in remission and find out the child has cancer again, that is a parents decision to try and help the child,” he said. Carrico the same senator who is authored a bill to allow county clerks to deny same-sex marriage licenses if it didn’t align with their religious beliefs – that bill failed.
On the medical side of the issue, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association and many more national and international medical orgs have all come out against the practice and called for it to be discontinued.
The poll also asked about Virginian’s approval of President Obama and Gov. McAuliffe, both of which were nearly split even. Another question dealt with possible 2017 gubernatorial candidates with confirmed Democratic candidate Ralph Northam pitted against possible GOP candidate Ed Gillespie. Gillespie came out on top by a few points with about 22 percent saying they’d prefer neither.
Northam has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights as he stated in a long form interview with GayRVA earlier this year.
As far as election 2016, Clinton scored four points higher than Trump with 14 percent unsure of which candidate they’d prefer.
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