The Delaware General Assembly on
Thursday approved a bill that bans therapies that attempt to alter
the sexual orientation or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender youth.
Such therapies go by names such as
“conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay
Senate Bill 65 was sponsored by Senator
Harris McDowell and Representative Debra Heffernan, both of whom are
Democrats. Democratic Governor John Carney is expected to sign the
bill into law.
“There's no evidence that conversion
therapy works,” Heffernan told her colleagues from the House floor.
“It also causes LGBTQ youth to have tragic consequences of
depression and even contemplate suicide.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, cheered the news.
“For young people across Delaware,
this legislation provides vital and potentially lifesaving
protections from the damaging, dangerous and discredited practice
known as ‘conversion therapy,’” HRC National Press Secretary
Sarah McBride, a Delawarean, said in a statement. “While Delaware
has made historic progress on LGBTQ equality, we can and must do more
to protect LGBTQ youth from rejection, stigma and harm. SB 65 is a
critical and significant step in that direction. We thank the
Delaware General Assembly for their support of this vital legislation
and we look forward to Governor Carney signing it into law.”
Similar legislation has been enacted in
Hawaii, Maryland, Washington, Connecticut, California, Nevada, New
Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, New Mexico
and the District of Columbia. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a
Republican, is expected to sign similar legislation approved by
lawmakers. An increasing number of local municipalities have also
enacted similar protections, particularly in Florida. In March,
became the first municipality in Wisconsin to enact such a ban.