On Friday, Hawaii’s Democratic Governor David Ige signed a law protecting minors from so-called ex-gay or reparative therapy, making it the 12th state in the nation to do so. With the Hawaii conversion therapy ban in place, about one-fourth or 25% of U.S. states now ban the harmful form of psychological torture. So what happens next?
As of April 2018, at least 13 other states are currently considering conversion therapy bans including Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
New Hampshire will likely be the next place it’s banned next as the state legislature has already passed a bill awaiting the signature of Republican Governor Chris Sununu. Delaware could follow afterwards as a ban has already been approved by the state Senate and is awaiting a House vote.
Sununu has already pledged to sign New Hampshire’s ban, showing that this issue crosses party lines despite religious conservatives trying to defend the torture with cries of “free speech” and “religious freedom.” Last year, two Republican governors also signed bans into law. Polling shows a majority of American oppose conversion therapy, and the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear cases challenging these bans as a violation of religious freedom.
Almost every major psychological association in existence condemns conversion therapy as a form of psychological torture. Conversion therapy uses electroshock therapy, solitary confinement, rape, beatings, forced medications and other forms of physical and psychological torture to force people to change their sexual orientation or gender identity even though no scientific research suggests that such change is even possible.
Meanwhile, ex-gay therapy continues to flourish in other countries like China and Ecuador. And even U.S. states with conversion therapy bans still allow abusive work camps that promise to “straighten out” troubled queer youth.
These private commercial juvenile reform facilities get around conversion therapy bans by advertising themselves as handling “adolescent discipline problems” and not affiliating themselves with licensed mental health professionals.