VA Del. responds to ex-gay billboard with bill to ban controversial therapy for minors
Virginia Del Patrick Hope (D - 47 -Arlington County) has released information about a bill he plans to bring before the 2015 General Assembly to combat ex-gay therapy on minors after a billboard put the controversial treatment in front of thousands of RVA eyes.
“There’s is no on/off switch for sexual orientation, and putting this bill in is necessary to send that message,” said Hope. His bill, which hasn’t been entered into the GA system yet, will will ban conversion therapy to minors by a licensed healthcare professional.
Hope said the ex-gay, or conversion therapy, is based on the false assumption being gay is a mental disorder.
Those who believe in the treatment argue banning it limits freedom of speech, and infringes on the rights of parents to treat their children as they see fit.
But Hope, and the medical community, disagrees.
The American Medical Association has decried the practice, saying it “opposes the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder, or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
American Psychiatric Association echoed these concerns, saying the “potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.”
“In cases like this, government ought to be involved and say what’s right and wrong,” said Hope. “But we’re only talking about minors… to have someone whose underaged, and to subject them to depression, anxiety, suicide, the risk is just too great.”
This isn’t the first time Hope has tried to push for legislation combating reparative therapy; last year, he proposed a similar bill which failed to get out of Committee.
Hope said he needs people to come forward to share their own stories about their conversion therapy experience because the committee members disagreed over whether or not it was even happening in Virginia.
“This billboard is proof that there’s organizations out there out there who want to do this,” said Hope. “We want to see people who have come forward and had conversion therapy thrust upon them… hopefully people will share their stories, and the government can act appropriately.”
“It’s an important issue, but we have a good opportunity,” said Hope, who can be reached through his website here. “Hearts and minds on gays and lesbians are changing, this has been a historic year and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t make some changes in this area.”
“He has openly advocated for conversion therapy. I want that to sink into people.”November 22, 2016
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