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Michigan lawmakers pass ban on ‘conversion therapy’ for minors

<i>Carlos Osorio/AP</i><br/>The Michigan State Capitol is photographed
Carlos Osorio/AP
The Michigan State Capitol is photographed

By Kaanita Iyer, CNN

(CNN) — Michigan’s Democratic-controlled state legislature gave final approval this week to a pair of bills that would ban so-called conversion therapy for minors, joining other blue states in advancing protections for the LGBTQ community this legislative session.

The state Senate voted largely along party lines Tuesday to advance the ban on “conversion therapy,” a scientifically discredited practice intended to change a person’s sexual orientation. The bills, which were passed by the state House earlier this month, now head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who signed an executive directive in 2021 that blocked the use of federal and state funds for conversion therapy on minors.

CNN has reached out to Whitmer’s office to inquire what action she plans to take on the legislation.

If Whitmer signs the bills, Michigan will become the 22nd state to ban conversion therapy, according to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. In April, Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed such a ban into law.

House Bill 4616 prohibits mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors. Under the bill, any violation will result in the mental health professional facing disciplinary action, which could include a suspended or revoked license.

House Bill 4617, meanwhile, aims to add the definition of conversion therapy to the state’s mental health code. It defines the term as “any practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behavior or gender expression or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.”

The bills would take effect 90 days after the governor signs them into law.

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, applauded Michigan lawmakers for passing the bills, which they called “critical.”

Sarah Warbelow, vice president of legal for HRC, said in a statement Tuesday that “no one should live in fear of being subjected to the discredited and dangerous practice.”

“While it’s a shame that this practice has been allowed to take place for so long, today’s passage is just another example of how Michigan is rapidly progressing toward being a more inclusive and safe state for LGBTQ+ people,” Warbelow continued.

LGBTQ rights have become a prominent issue in state legislatures nationwide as Democratic and Republican lawmakers look to push opposing bills that advance or curtail protections.

Earlier this week, Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed an executive order that prohibits state resources from being used to support conversion therapy on minors. And in Michigan – where Democrats now control the governorship and both legislative chambers for the first time in roughly four decades – Whitmer signed a bill earlier this year that expanded the state’s Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten and Andy Rose contributed to this report.

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