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Michigan Legislature approves ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers gave final legislative approval to legislation banning so-called conversion therapy for minors as Democrats in the state continue to advance a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda in their first months in power.

The legislation would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging conversion therapy, a scientifically discredited practice of trying to “convert” people are who LGBTQ+ to heterosexuality and traditional gender expectations.

The Michigan Senate approved the ban in a 21-15 vote — with one Republican siding with Democrats — late Tuesday night after the state House previously approved the legislation. It now awaits final approval by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has previously called conversion therapy a “dangerous practice.”

Democratic state Rep. Jason Hoskins, a sponsor of the bills, told The Associated Press when the legislation was first introduced that conversion therapy “works on the false premise that LGBTQ+ children are wrong and they need to be fixed.”

“Banning it is just one less thing that LGBTQ children will have to worry about going forward in Michigan,” said Hoskins, who was the first LGBTQ+ person of color elected in the Michigan Legislature.

Michigan Democrats have made it a priority to further protect the LGBTQ+ community since they took control of all levels of state government this year. In March, lawmakers codified LGBTQ+ protections into the state’s civil rights law, permanently outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state.

Republicans spoke out about the ban of conversion therapy on the Senate floor Tuesday night, with speeches often centering on transgender individuals.

“Hearing a bunch of straight people in the Senate lecture me about the journey of an LGBTQ person is the exact reason we should be banning conversion therapy,” Democratic Sen. Jeremy Moss, the state’s first openly gay state senator, said on the chamber’s floor Tuesday.

Under the bills passed Wednesday, conversion therapy includes any practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. That does not include counseling that provides assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition.

The Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for the LGBTQ community earlier this month in response to an “unprecedented and dangerous” spike in discriminatory legislation sweeping state houses this year. The organization praised Michigan on Tuesday for passing the ban.

If signed by Whitmer, Michigan will become the 22nd state to ban conversion therapy, according according to the Movement Advancement Project, a pro-LGBTQ+ rights think tank. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs issued an executive order Tuesday that prohibits state agencies from using funds to promote or facilitate conversion therapy.

In 2021, Whitmer signed an executive directive prohibiting the use of state and federal funds for conversion therapy on minors and to explore what further actions can be taken to protect minors from the practice.

Joey Cappelletti, The Associated Press

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