Rhode Island House Votes to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

State House

The House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would bar licensed health care providers from using so-called gay conversion therapy to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The House voted 69-0 to pass the bill Tuesday, with six legislators not voting. It now moves to the state Senate.

Nevada and Connecticut this month became the latest to ban the practice, joining New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont and New Mexico.

Rhode Island’s proposal would prohibit psychologists, social workers and other licensed health care professionals from using practices that treat homosexuality as an illness and try to cure it in children under 18 years old. Violations could be subject to disciplinary action or revocation of licenses by the state department of health.

Numerous national and international medical associations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, have issued statements against or otherwise taken action against conversion therapy.

“Conversion therapy is worse than ineffective; it can be extremely harmful, especially in children,” said Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), the primary sponsor of the bill. “Sexual orientation, as well as gender identity, is widely recognized by science and medicine as simply innate to a person. It is no more a disease or a condition that needs to be changed than is race or eye color. Putting someone, especially a young person, through conversion therapy can lead them to a host of serious problems including depression, substance abuse, isolation and suicide.