The Delaware House last week voted 24-14 to approve a ban on “conversion therapy,” a widely discredited practice that purports to change sexual orientation from gay to straight.
Senate Bill 65, which prohibits the use of “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ youth in Delaware is sponsored by State Sen. Harris McDowell and State Rep. Debra Heffernan (D-Bellefonte). The measure was approved by the Senate last year and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Carney.
Delaware would join 12 other jurisdictions that ban the practice, including New Jersey, Nevada, California, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, Oregon, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, New York and the District of Columbia. New Hampshire is in a similar situation as Delaware, with its General Assembly passing legislation preventing the use of “conversion therapy” awaiting signature from its governor.
The Human Rights Campaign said in a statement that research has shown “conversion therapy” can result in numerous harmful risks, including decreased self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, homelessness and suicidal behavior. The practice has been condemned by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association.
“For young people across Delaware, this legislation provides vital and potentially lifesaving protections from the damaging, dangerous and discredited practice known as ‘conversion therapy,’” said HRC National Press Secretary, Sarah McBride, in a statement. “While Delaware has made historic progress on LGBTQ equality, we can and must do more to protect LGBTQ youth from rejection, stigma and harm. SB 65 is a critical and significant step in the right direction.”
McBride is a native Delawarean, born in Wilmington. She worked as a campaign staffer for Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden’s 2010 campaign and Gov. Jack Markell’s 2008 campaign.
“We thank those members of the General Assembly who voted to protect LGBTQ children against the dangerous and harmful practice of conversion therapy, and especially prime sponsors Sen. Harris McDowell and Rep. Debra Heffernan and their legislative aides for their leadership,” said Equality Delaware’s Mark Purpura in a statement. “We look forward to Gov. Carney signing the bill into law promptly.”
Under the measure, a licensed medical practitioner who performs the practice could be fined or have their license revoked.