Conversion therapy ban introduced in Indiana

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Conversion therapy is currently still legal in Indiana, the home state of Vice President Mike Pence, who has long been criticized for his anti-LGBTQ positions. But this week, state legislators formally introduced a bill to ban the discredited “therapy” for minors. 

Democratic State Senator J.D. Ford has authored Senate Bill 32, which would prohibit mental health counselors from trying to alter the sexual orientation or gender identity of people under the age of 18 in Indiana. Rep. Sue Errington has introduced a companion bill, House Bill 1213

The measures say that providers who violate the ban would be subject to disciplinary action. 

“Conversion therapy is an archaic and unscientific practice that inflicts incredible harm,” Ford, the first openly LGBTQ legislator in Indiana, tweeted Tuesday. “My bill, SB 32, ensures the protection of Indiana’s LGBTQ community from such cruelty and can save the lives of countless Hoosiers.”

Conversion therapy is a discredited practice that aims to “convert” a person’s sexual orientation, currently banned in at least 20 states. The American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality is not an illness that can be “cured” over 45 years ago, but an estimated 700,000 adults in the U.S. have received some kind of conversion therapy, according to GLAAD.

“There is no financial risk to our state government for approving this legislation, so why not do this?,” Ford said in a statement. “I’m counting on all Hoosiers to help me get this across the finish line. Call your state senators. Call your state representatives. Call our governor. Tell them that Indiana doesn’t support hate in our state.”

The Deciders: LGBTQ voters in 2020 04:15

“We cannot expect our students to feel comfortable in learning about or accepting their sexuality in a state that allows this discredited, harmful practice to continue,” Rep. Errington said in a statement Tuesday. “I know Hoosiers in my district who have personally experienced conversion therapy and are seriously concerned about its use on young people today. I believe banning conversion therapy in Indiana is an essential step in protecting and supporting all Hoosiers.”

Pence, a conservative Christian from Columbus, Indiana, has a long history of supporting anti-LGBTQ measures. 

Over the course of his career, Pence has opposed expanding the definition of hate crimes, supported defining marriage as being between a man and a woman and opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He has famously been accused of supporting conversion therapy, despite publicly denying it. 

While governor, Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that allowed people to cite religious reasons for refusing to serve gay people. After widespread protests and boycotts, the state passed an amendment intended to bar such discrimination.

With Pence as vice president, the Trump Administration has worked to remove federal protections against health care discrimination for transgender patients, allow adoption and foster organizations to deny services to LGBTQ couples, ban Pride flags from U.S. embassies and bar transgender troops from serving in the nation’s military openly, among other things. 

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