Maryland bans "gay conversion therapy" for minors

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Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth crisis intervention organization, called the law "a victory in our fight to protect LGBTQ young people everywhere from this risky and discredited practice".

Conversion therapists could potentially face loss of licensure, but the bill does not state whether they would also be subject to financial penalties.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill into law Tuesday night, making the state the 11th to ban the practice, which has been discredited by medical and mental health professionals, including the American Psychological Association. During debate, Republican Del.

Among those who backed the bill was Delegate Meagan Simonaire, who, in an impassioned speech on the state Senate floor April, said that her father, state senator Bryan Simonaire, pushed her to go through gay conversion therapy.

"Today, Maryland is a better place for countless young people thanks to the many advocates, allies, parents, and survivors who spoke out against this practice and urged their elected officials-Republicans and Democrats alike-to adopt these crucial protections", he continued. "LGBTQ youth are ideal as they are and are deserving of every opportunity to help them thrive".

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

Mathew Shurka, an activist who has campaigned for the measure and experienced conversion therapy for five years between the ages of 16 and 21, said the new law marks another step toward ending the practice.

"The governor was pleased to sign this bill, and believes it's the right thing to do", Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, confirmed.

California banned gay conversion therapy in 2012, and 10 other states have followed suit.

"Right now, there is a growing movement across the country", said Carolyn Reyes, youth policy counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, in a statement.

Supporters say the measure will help protect youths from depression, anxiety and potential suicide by preventing them from being forced into such treatment.

"We will keep fighting until all of our youth are protected, no matter where they live", she continued.

The APA, in particular, criticizes gay conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, for offering a "serious potential to harm young people".