Recently, lawmakers in Louisiana attempted to pass a bill that would have banned “conversion therapy” for minors. Unfortunately, the bill stalled in committee and will not become law at this time.
A few weeks ago, the Louisiana House Committee on Health and Welfare voted against a bill that would have banned “conversion therapies” on minors in the state.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has condemned the practice of using therapies to try “to change” the sexual orientation or gender identity of patients several times. It is widely believed that these practices hurt people’s well-being.
Fortunately, a growing number of cities and states have banned it. For now, twenty states and the District of Columbia have approved “conversion therapy” bans for minors, and several more are considering a similar ban. Many municipalities have also chosen to pass laws prohibiting “conversion therapies”.
Mandie Landry, a Democratic Representative from New Orleans, recently introduced House Bill 605, which would prohibit any licensed medical professionals from offering therapies intended to change someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation in Louisiana.
“This is not something that works, and on the opposite side, it’s actually extremely harmful for children,” Landry said.
“Conversion therapies” have been a hot-button issue in Louisiana, and the House Health and Human Services Committee was deadlocked on the bill. It’s pretty crazy that a bill could be rejected in such a convoluted way. The procedure that killed the bill was flawed, to say the least.
When a committee wishes to kill a bill, it can do so through a motion to adjourn. This motion essentially puts an end to all discussion on the bill, preventing it from moving any further. And such a motion was used in Louisiana’s Health and Human Services Committee to kill the bill to ban “conversion therapies” but failed with a 6-7 vote.
Mandie Landry and many health professionals, social workers, and even some clergy then detailed the physical and psychological harm that results from the practice. They described how “conversion therapy” is not only unsuccessful but also damaging.
Most of those who spoke against the bill said that “conversion therapies” had more in common with torture than with any kind of medical or psychological care. They said that this practice could lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. They argued it is unethical and should be banned to protect LGBTQ+ youth.
Landry also agreed to add an amendment to allow parents to have a say in whether to use this practice with minors even if this decision is confounding.
On the one hand, it is understandable that she would want to allow parents to have a say in whether “conversion therapies” are used for their kids. After all, parents should be the ones deciding about their children’s care. However, one can only worry about what some parents might do to their kids if allowed to use “conversion therapies.” There is a danger that some parents might force them to undergo these “therapies” against their will.
The bottom line is that, while it is important to respect the rights of parents, it is also important to protect the rights of children.
A few minutes later, the Committee vote on the bill was deadlocked at 6-6, with some lawmakers citing religious beliefs for opposing the bill and effectively killing it for this session.
Representatives from the Louisiana Baptists Office of Public Policy have, for example, come out against the bill because it is “bigotry” against the Christian church, as they said. But Landry’s bill is aimed at medical professionals only. It doesn’t prohibit religious groups from practicing “conversion therapy.”
The biggest bigotry here came from Republican Representative Raymond Crews who said that the legislation was discriminatory because it did not protect straight people from therapies to change their sexual orientation.
“It eliminates a whole class here,” Crews said. “This is a restriction of free speech.”
Mr. Crews, I’m sorry to say that there is no such thing as “conversion therapy” to make people gay.
A bill that would have prohibited “conversion therapy” in Louisiana recently stalled in the state legislature, leaving the controversial and damaging practice still legal in the state. While there is bipartisan support for banning “conversion therapy,” some religious groups have spoken out against the measure. It remains to be seen whether the bill will be reintroduced and passed.