Conversion therapy ban introduced in Mike Pence's home state of Indiana

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Indiana's first openly gay legislator hopes to push the issue beyond partisan politics.
Indiana legislators this week introduced a measure that would ban conversion therapy for minors by licensed counselors.

Senate Bill 32, authored by Democratic state Sen. J.D. Ford, would prohibit efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of anyone younger than 18.

Therapists who violate the order would be subject to disciplinary action, including possible loss of their licenses.

"I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle see this isn't a partisan issue. It's a lifesaving issue," said Ford, the first openly gay lawmaker in Indiana. "I don't want to hear 'Oh, we can't give your bill a hearing, because we have to deal with Covid-19.' Yes, the pandemic is a huge priority, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time."

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy or ex-gay therapy, has been widely discredited by an overwhelming majority of health care organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization and even the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.

LGBTQ Americans who have been subjected to conversion therapy are nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and eight times more likely to have attempted suicide, according to GLAAD.

To date, 20 states and more than 80 cities have outlawed attempts to change the sexual orientations or gender identities of minors. Except in Utah, most bans have been passed by Democratic-controlled legislatures.

Passing such a ban in Indiana would be a turning point for the state, said Drew Anderson, a board member of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats.

"We can set a standard for other states that people view as Republican about being successful on LGBTQ issues," he said.

It would also distance Indiana from the anti-LGBTQ reputation it gained under Vice President Mike Pence, who was governor from 2013 through 2016 and represented it…
Dan Avery
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