March 3, 2020 at 7:42 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Northam signs bill to ban conversion therapy for minors in Va.
decriminalization, gay news, Washington Blade
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday signed a bill that will ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in the state.

Maryland and D.C. are among the U.S. jurisdictions in which the highly discredited practice has been banned. Virginia will become the first Southern state to prohibit conversion therapy for minors once the bill takes effect on July 1.

“This issue is personal for me, as a pediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children,” said Northam in a statement, according to the Washington Post.  “Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”

Democrats last November regained control of the Virginia General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades. The bill — which state Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County) introduced — is among the LGBTQ rights measures that Virginia lawmakers have approved during the 2020 legislative session.

The General Assembly last week gave its final approval to the Virginia Values Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law. Northam is expected to sign the measure in the coming weeks.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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