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State Sen. Beth Bye Leads Passage of Bill Banning Conversion Therapy, Governor Signs Immediately

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs a bill prohibiting conversion therapy surrounded by legislative leaders and advocates including State Sen. Beth Bye and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. Courtesy photo

State Sen. Beth Bye of West Hartford led the Senate Debate on a bill banning conversion therapy in Connecticut, and the measure was passed unanimously and became law on Wednesday.

By Ronni Newton

A bill prohibiting the practice of “conversion therapy” in Connecticut was signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy early Wednesday evening, immediately following its unanimous and bipartisan approval in the State Senate that same day.

The bill passed the State House 141-8 last week, also receiving overwhelmingly bipartisan support.

Legislative leaders, proponents, and others who advocated for the bill attended the signing ceremony Wednesdasy in the governor’s office. The legislation takes effect immediately.

Conversion therapy is the attempt by a health care provider to counsel and change a minor’s sexual orientation. In some cases destructive and harmful practices, such as electric shock therapy, are employed. The practice has been discredited by credible medical and psychiatric organizations throughout the country.

Counseling to assist in the process of gender transition is permitted under the bill, House Bill 6695, “An Act Concerning the Protection of Youth from Conversion Therapy.”

“At its most basic level this bill helps support the emotional and physical health of young people who are going through a very difficult time in their lives, discovering their sexuality and coming to terms with that in a society which – even in 2017 – is not always as accepting as it should be of America’s LBGTQ citizens. So it holds licensed professionals and others to a very high standard of behavior,” State Sen. Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) a co-sponsor of the bill who led the Senate debate on the issue, said in a statement.

“I think more importantly, this bill sends the message that homosexuality is not wrong, there is nothing to ‘fix.’ Hundreds of professional medical organizations have determined that, and our U.S. Supreme Court even ruled last week that there is no religious grounds for conversion therapy,” Bye added. “So today was a big step forward for Connecticut in the arena of civil rights, and I am thankful to my Democratic and Republican colleagues for their overwhelming support of this bill. I think young people should take some comfort in the fact that both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, people who are sometimes on the opposite sides of an issue, joined together today to support this bill and to support the teenagers who we seek to serve.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Currey (D-East Hartford), who said that the bill’s quick passage with bipartisan support sends a strong message on behalf of the state and its support for LGBTQ youth. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Senator Bye to make our state a safer, more accepting place for all young people who fear they may be treated differently because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said in a statement.

“At a time when we see harassment increasing against anyone perceived as being different, at a time when we see the rights of our friends and neighbors being threatened by the national government, at a time when we see LGBTQ youth turning to suicide at record rates, to remain silent is to be complicit,” Malloy said in a statement.

The governor thanked Bye and Currey, as well as all who voted to pass the bill. “This legislation is about protecting children and teens who have been forced to undergo this so-called therapy, despite the fact that it is not supported by any medical evidence and its only proven results have been harmful, destructive, and lasting,” Malloy added.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also supported the bill, attended the signing ceremony, and added her thanks for its passage and signing into law. She said in a statement, “The harmful impacts of conversion therapy are well-documented and face expansive opposition by national groups including the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, as well as pediatric care providers.”

According to a news release from Bye’s office, conversion therapy will now be considered “unprofessional conduct subject to disciplinary action.” Conversion therapy practiced during the conducting of trade or commerce will be considered an “unfair or deceptive trade practice.” Public funds will not be permitted to be spent on conversion therapy or any related actions.

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