Luzerne County lawmaker proposes ban on gay conversion therapy

From the Times-Tribune online…

youth holding handsHARRISBURG – Mental health providers would be prohibited from counseling gay and lesbian youths to change their sexual orientation under a bill being introduced by a Luzerne County lawmaker.

Reps. Gerald Mullery, D-119, Newport Twp., and Brian Sims, D-182, Philadelphia, are seeking to ban this type of therapy for patients under age 18. They cite the precedent of a new law in New Jersey signed last week by Gov. Chris Christie. Citing studies by the American Psychological Association, Mr. Mullery said he considers sexual orientation conversion therapy to be harmful to children and causing some to even have suicidal thoughts. Conversion therapy is described as counseling and psychotherapy attempting to eliminate or suppress homosexuality. “They (patients) are being asked to change who they are,” said Mr. Mullery. “I view it like mental bullying.”

In a legislative memo, Mr. Mullery and Mr. Sims said youth need to be protected from the harm caused by sexual orientation change efforts. “Studies have concluded that there is insufficient evidence that sexual orientation change efforts are effective for changing sexual orientation, and that such efforts could result in damaging long-term effects for minors,” the lawmakers said. “Therefore, like any other harmful act that is prohibited by Pennsylvania law, we must protect Pennsylvania’s youth from sexual orientation change efforts.”

Mr. Mullery said he started researching the issue after becoming aware of the legislation moving to passage in New Jersey and Mr. Christie’s support for it. The lawmaker said he hopes Mr. Christie’s action will motivate Republican state lawmakers in Harrisburg to join as bill cosponsors.

New Jersey’s law bans state-licensed counselors, therapists and social workers from practicing conversion therapy.


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