Va. Bill to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors Fails in Committee

A bill that aimed to ban sexual orientation change therapy for minors in the Commonwealth of Virginia was defeated in committee.

House Bill 1135 was recently defeated in a House of Delegates subcommittee of the Committee on Health Welfare and Institutions.

At its hearing late last month, HB 1135 was the subject of emotional testimony both for and against the proposal to ban gay therapy for minors, reported Kathy Adams of the Virginian-Pilot.

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"Gail Dickert, 35, said she was subjected to conversion therapy by people from various churches … It took her more than 20 years to recover from the emotional scars the therapy inflicted, scars no child should have to bear, Dickert said," wrote Adams.

"Christopher Doyle, a 32-year-old man from Northern Virginia, said he struggled with unwanted homosexual feelings until he sought therapy in his early 20s … He's now been happily married to a woman for seven years..."

Introduced by Delegate Patrick Hope last month, HB 1135 sought to ban the usage of conversion therapy for minors, a psychiatric practice condemned by every mainstream psychological organization in the United States.

"Prohibits any health care provider from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with any person under 18 years of age," read HB 1135's summary.

At a press conference held in Richmond in support of his proposed legislation, Hope declared that homosexual behavior was neither a sin nor a mental disorder.

"Conversion therapy is based on the false assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or a sin. Well, it is not. There is no on/off switch to sexual orientation," said Hope.

"I believe our government has the duty and an obligation to, at a minimum, protect our children from the dangers of conversion therapy. This bill seeks to do just that."

Critics like Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said in a statement that HB 1135 infringed upon the rights of parents and therapists.

"It's astonishing that the party that claims to defend choice and free speech is bent on limiting both for counselors, parents and kids struggling with their sexuality," said Cobb.

"Their discrimination against people that leave the homosexual lifestyle is insulting to thousands who have made this change."

Virginia is one of multiple states who have mulled the outlawing of sexual orientation conversion therapy for gay youths.

California and New Jersey have both passed similar measures, with both states being sued by the Liberty Counsel on behalf of practitioners.

Recently the Liberty Counsel filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the West Coast state's ban.

As for Virginia, Hope has stated that he intends to refile the bill in the near future, with the hopes that gradual support for the legislation will lead to its success.

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