Lawmakers discuss restrictions on 'conversion therapy'

February 14, 2019 05:27 AM

LGBTQ advocacy groups rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday prior to a hearing on a bill that would severely restrict "conversion therapy," a practice that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation.

A total of 15 states already ban the practice. Minnesota is considering becoming the 16th, or at least restricting it considerably.


The states highlighted in green below all have legislation currently pending that, if passed, would outlaw conversion therapy from being performed on minors.

It is illegal to perform conversion therapy on minors in the states highlighted in blue below.

A bill under discussion would outlaw "conversion therapy" from being conducted on any person younger than 18 or considered a vulnerable adult.

It passed out of the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee by a 10-6 vote Wednesday night.

At Wednesday's hearing, two people who have gone through the practice testified about the damage they say it caused them.

Wil Sampson-Bernstrom said he went through a form of hypnosis where therapists tried to block parts of his memory.

"I was told that I was a threat and dangerous to other people, and that I lived a sin that I had the power to change," he said.

Another former conversion client, Roger Sanchez, said it cost him his childhood.

"Conversion therapy is wrong, and I want to make sure that people do not go through the same thing," he said. "I was robbed of a childhood. I was robbed of my early 20s - to not be able to love who I love...and I still struggle with it to this day."

But opponents of the measure say the practice is protected by free speech.

"It bans speech that helps a person address unwanted same-sex attractions, but specifically allows for speech that helps someone embrace such attractions," said Renee Carlson of the North Star Law and Policy Center.

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Tom Hauser

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