Delaware bans gay conversion therapy

Delaware bans gay conversion therapy
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Delaware Gov. John CarneyJohn Charles CarneyDelaware bans gay conversion therapy New Jersey governor signs sports betting into law GOP New Hampshire governor signs law banning gay conversion therapy MORE (D) signed a new law on Monday banning licensed mental health professionals in the state from practicing gay conversion therapy on minors.

According to Delaware Public Media, the new legislation makes Delaware the 15th state to ban the practice of trying to alter someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. However, some advocacy groups say New York hasn’t fully banned the practice — only restricted it — making Delaware the 14th.

The new law reportedly outlaws the practice as unprofessional conduct for licensed medical and mental health professionals in Delaware and also prevents the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families from recommending conversion therapy to families. 

State Rep. Debra Heffernan (D), one of the bill’s sponsors, criticized the practice, which she said puts LBGTQ youth at a greater risk for self-harm. 

“Conversion Therapy is pseudoscience and child endangerment, plain and simple,” Heffernan said in a statement obtained by the local outlet. 

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Human Rights Campaign's national press secretary Sarah McBride also condemned the practice in a statement and said the move to ban conversion therapy will make the state a safer place for young LGBTQ residents.

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is dangerous, cruel and uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare organization,” said McBride. 

Carney thanked legislators and advocates later on Monday for moving the bill forward.

"I’m thankful for the legislators and advocates who moved SB 65 forward," Carney said on Twitter. "Thank you specifically to Rep. Heffernan and Sen. McDowell for their leadership on this important issue, and to all members of the General Assembly who voted to make this new law a reality."

Medical and mental health professionals have largely condemned conversion therapy, saying that the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation is proven to be ineffective and can cause psychological harm. 

A number of states have moved to ban conversion therapy in recent months, including Washington and California.

—Updated at 9:17 p.m.