Washington state is one signature away from banning licensed therapists from trying to convert a minor’s sexual orientation.
The state’s Senate passed a bill on Saturday that will impose sanctions on licensed therapists should they attempt to perform gay conversion therapy on someone under the age of 18.
Those found guilty of breaking the law could face fines, medical license revocation or suspension.
Conversion therapy involving a minor is already banned in nine states ― California, Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico and Rhode Island ― as well as the District of Columbia. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives last month passed a similar bill that bans the practice. That bill is slated to go before the state’s Senate, which rejected a similar bill in January.
Seattle, Washington’s largest city, also banned the practice in 2016.
It’s estimated that 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have received treatment to change their sexual orientation or gender at some point in their lives, according to a recent report by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law. Of that estimate, 350,000 received treatment as adolescents.
In states that don’t have such protections, the report states that an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors will be affected by the practice.
The Human Rights Campaign, a LGBTQ organization, celebrated the Washington Legislature’s decision and called upon Inslee to “sign this crucially important” bill.
“Children across the Evergreen State deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy,” HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said.