Minnesota governor bans 'conversion therapy' by executive order - Africa News Quick
  • July 15, 2021

Minnesota governor bans ‘conversion therapy’ by executive order

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an executive order Thursday ending the practice of subjecting LGBTQ youth to “conversion therapy,” a discredited procedure for “turning” gays into heterosexuals.

The Midwest state is now the 21st to ban conversion therapy for minors.

“I would say Minnesota is a little more welcoming and a little more cheerful today because of the work that everyone has done,” Walz said after signing the order.

Legislation banning the practice was passed by the Democrat-controlled state House in 2019, but stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate, which is currently postponed until January 2022.

“Today is a good day,” Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan (D) said at the signing ceremony. Both she and the governor pointed out that more needed to be done.

“We have to make these changes in the House and Senate so this can become law,” Flanagan said.

Walz said he ultimately decided to make the change through an executive order, which subsequent administrations can easily undo, because waiting for the legislation to pass was actively harming children.

“This was very difficult for all of us. I felt like … every day you wait I could put another kid through this, ”she said.

State Senator Scott Dibble, an openly gay Minneapolis Democrat, has been a leading proponent of the ban, citing in part his own experience growing up. Although he was never subjected to conversion therapy, also called “reparative therapy,” Dibble saying last year he grew up “with the unmistakable message that who and what I was was bad, sinful, socially undesirable.”

On Thursday, Dibble addressed “all Minnesota youth who feel isolated, lonely, desperate, may be afraid of what they hear from powerful people,” saying, “You are perfect.”

Two years ago, the public debate on conversion therapy in the Minnesota legislature got very personal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribute reported, as the Democratic and Republican state senators shared emotional stories of their own lives.

Minnesota State Senator Paul Gazelka, a conservative Christian who serves as the Republican Majority Leader, told the newspaper how the problem hits close to home because one of his five children, Genna, identifies as bisexual and uses the pronoun “they”.

Genna Gazelka said they had been referred to a therapist who opposed gay relationships as teenagers and that it had a lasting negative impact on their lives.

“I cry about this issue,” Senator Gazelka said. told the Star-Tribune in May 2019.

At the time, he said he was working to find a compromise banning conversion therapy techniques while appeasing religious conservatives. Such a compromise proved elusive.

The American Psychological Association says so-called therapies have the potential to inflict serious harm on young people because they view same-sex attraction as a mental disorder and often as a moral failure. For some, pressure can lead to depression, substance abuse, and self-harm.

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