Last month, Governor of Hawaii David Ige signed a bill into law preventing state-licensed medical professionals from performing sexual orientation or gender identity conversion therapy on anyone under 18, making the state the 12th so far to implement a ban.
The bill, SB270, cites findings from an American Psychological Association task force regarding “appropriate therapeutic responses” to sexual orientation. The task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts do not work and contribute to a number of adverse health effects including depression, suicidality, loss of sexual feeling, anxiety, shame, and negative self-image.
As our project Protecting LGBTQ+ Youth from Conversion Therapy continues to grow, we are requesting information from Attorney Generals in all 50 states to get a better understanding of the scope and impact of conversion therapy.
Some opponents of bans like the Hawaii bill argue that banning conversion therapy is an attack on free speech. While a ninth-circuit court decided that California’s conversion therapy ban was constitutional because the therapy in question is “conduct” not speech, Paul Sherman and Robert McNamara of the libertarian Institute for Justice believe otherwise. In a recent New York Times op-ed, the pair argues that the California ruling could have “drastic consequences for thousands of Americans who speak on all sorts of harmless, everyday topics.”
This project has given us insight into just how difficult it can be to craft legislation that bans the practice without infringing on the right to free speech. However, stepping away from the issue of potential implications of bans like this, the intent of Hawaii’s bill is crystal clear. As Ige told the LGBTQ+ youth community while signing it; “Sexual orientation is not an illness to be cured … We accept you and love you just the way you are.”
SB 270 is embedded below.
Image via Governor David Y. Ige Flickr and is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0