Maryland Prohibits Conversion Therapy For Gay Youth

Maryland banned gay conversion therapy Tuesday, a move that has been met with cheers of victory from gay and LGBTQ members of the community.

Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan signed the Youth Mental Health Protection Act on Tuesday, according to NBC News, effectively banning the practice in Maryland. The move comes after the House passed the bill in a 95-27 vote on April 5.

Gay conversion therapy is defined as “psychiatric therapy aimed at changing a persons sexual orientation, based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder requiring therapy,” according to the Medical Dictionary. The American Psychiatric Association condemns gay conversion therapy as unethical.

The American Medical Association, National Association of School Psychologists, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Counseling Association also all discredit the practice, NBC News reported.

The law is “a victory in our fight to protect LGBTQ young people everywhere from this dangerous and discredited practice,” said The Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley. The Trevor Project describes itself as a “leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25,” according to its website.

California banned gay conversion therapy in 2012, and 10 other states have followed suit. Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington all ban the practice. The District of Columbia also prohibits gay conversion therapy.

California legislators passed a bill in mid April, seeking to outlaw advertisements or services that claim to change an individuals homosexuality, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: California Lawmakers To Restrict Gay Conversion Therapy, But Critics Warn Violation Of Religious Freedom)

A number of Republican lawmakers, including Yuba City Assemblyman James Gallagher, worry the move threatens to curtail free speech, especially given the practice of gay conversion therapy is already outlawed in the state. They also note that it could harm adults who seek to undergo the therapy of their own volition. Republican lawmakers expect the courts to overturn the measure for violating free speech rights.

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