May 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Republican Nevada governor signs ‘ex-gay’ therapy ban

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed a ban on “ex-gay” therapy for youth. (Photo via Wikimedia)

The Republican governor of Nevada has become the latest to sign into law a statewide ban barring the widely discredited practice on youth of “ex-gay” conversion therapy

Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday signed into law Senate Bill 201, which makes it illegal for any licensed medical or mental health care provider to provide sexual orientation or gender conversion therapy to anyone under 18 years old.

“Conversion therapy has been disavowed by medical experts and is considered a non-effective method of treatment that can cause harm to an adolescent,” Sandoval said in a statement. “This law will help protect some of our state’s most vulnerable youth.”

The measure was approved in the Nevada Assembly earlier this month by a 31-8 vote and in the Nevada Senate in April by a 15-5 vote. The legislature amended the bill to clarify it still allows licensed health care professionals from engaging in “expressive speech or religious counseling” with minors if the licensed health care professionals are acting in their pastoral or religious capacity.

As a result of Sandoval signing SB201, Nevada has joined D.C. and 10 states to ban conversion therapy for youth. The other states are California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and Connecticut. (New York’s ban is uniquely the result of an order signed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and not legislation.)

The practice of therapy aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender status is considered ineffectual at best and harmful at worst. Major medical and psychological institutions, including American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, widely reject conversion therapy.

Carolyn Reyes, the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ youth policy counsel and Born Perfect campaign director, said in a statement the new law means Nevada officials “have prioritized the safety, health, and well-being of LGBTQ Nevadans by putting an end to the discredited practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy.'”

“The American Psychological Association has linked conversion therapy to depression, substance abuse and even suicide — risks that are particularly acute for youth,” Reyes said. “Nevada knows that all of our children are born perfect.”

Delaware may be the next state to ban “ex-gay” therapy for youth. The Delaware Senate on Wednesday approved by a vote of 12-3 a measure that would ban conversion therapy, which now proceeds to the House.

Sandoval is the fourth Republican governor to sign into a law a ban on conversion therapy. Other Republican governors who have signed bans on “ex-gay” therapy for youth are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, commended Sandoval in a statement for signing into law the ban on “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy,” Griffin said. “Medical professionals agree this outdated and discredited practice not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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