WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ten states and Washington, D.C. have outlawed conversion therapy, and four bans were signed into law by governors, signaling a growing bipartisan consensus, The Victory Fund said.

Most recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law SB 5722, legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from the fraudulent, harmful and debunked practice of “conversion therapy.” The bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equal Rights Washington.

Sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” conversion therapy consists of harmful practices that attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity via physical or cognitive behavioral techniques, NCLR stated. “Conversion therapy has been shown to lead to higher instances of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide, leading these practices to be condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the United States, including the American Psychological Association,” it added.

Joining Washington in the effort was Milwaukee, Wis. The municipality was the first in the state to establish protections for youth from conversion therapy. The Human Rights Campaign and Fair Wisconsin, the statewide group working to advance equality for LGBTQ Wisconsinites, praised the Milwaukee Common Council for passing the measure. The ordinance prohibits licensed mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors and carries a civil penalty for each violation.

A growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities in Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, have enacted similar crucial protections. Connecticut, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice, the Human Rights Campaign shared.

Maryland State Sen. Rich Madaleno, who is running for governor of the state, introduced a bill to ban conversion therapy which was approved by the Senate and now heads to the House of Delegates under separate sponsorship by representatives there, The Victory Fund said. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan supports the bill.

On April 3 in a bipartisan vote of 8-2 , the California Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee passed Assemblymember Evan Low’s AB 2943, which would would make clear that claiming to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity — sometimes called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy — is a fraudulent business practice that misleads consumers and exposes LGBTQ people to damaging psychological abuse. Equality California was a co-sponsor of the legislation. Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) joined all seven committee Democrats to support the bill’s passage. Following the vote, AB 2943 will advance to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state lawmakers fail to act.

info: nclrights.org. hrc.org. victoryfund.org. williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.