Jul 28, 2014

Minneapolis Lawmaker Wants to Ban ‘Gay-to-Straight’ Therapy

Rep. Susan Allen says reparative or conversion therapy has been ‘discredited’ and should not be allowed for licensed practitioners.

Minneapolis Lawmaker Wants to Ban ‘Gay-to-Straight’ Therapy

Minneapolis Rep. Susan Allen (DFL-62B) has introduced a bill that would prohibit licensed therapists from trying turn gay youth straight.

Reparative therapy or conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific treatment that aims to change sexual orientation. The country’s major mental health and pediatric associations have all said homosexuality is not a mental disorder or something that needs to be cured. The American Psychological Association says conversion therapy has “no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations.”

Allen said conversion therapy practitioners aren’t as overt as they once were but that the treatment is still widespread.

“If you look at over the period of the last five years, they’ve sort of changed the way they advertise their services,” Allen told Capitol Report host Julie Bartkey. “It’s not as obvious anymore that some of the Christian, sort of, based mental health services that offer this type of therapy. It’s just sort of given that it’s part of their family therapy. So it is prevalent, and it is a nationwide problem.”

Minnesota’s best known conversion therapy practitioner is Marcus Bachmann, the husband of 6th District Congresswoman Rep. Michele Bachmann. In 2011, Marcus Bachmann acknowledged that therapists in his Christian counseling business will offer conversion therapy to those who want it—although he said the practice, which was renamed Counseling Care in December, is not focused on converting gays to heterosexuality.

Said Allen: “It’s a practice that’s been discredited. There’s 40 years of research.”

If passed, Allen’s law would apply only to licensed practitioners and the prohibition would only be in effect for minors. The state licensing boards would be responsible for monitoring and discipline.

“We don’t dictate the terms of what the discipline should be, but we do deem it that it is prohibited and that it is something that needs to be regulated,” Allen said.

Minnesota would not be the first state with such a ban. California passed a law banning so-called gay aversion therapy. Critics sued, alleging that the law violated free speech and parental rights. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the law regulates "professional conduct, not speech."

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