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Delaware Becomes Latest State to Ban 'Gay Conversion Therapy'

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Homosexuality is banned in more than 70 countries worldwide — and even where it's legal, "gay conversion therapy" instructs that it's a mental illness. Under the UN’s Global Goal for reduced inequalities, it’s vital that we continue to take action to protect LGBTQ rights — as with legislation like this. Join us in taking action on reducing inequalities here.

Licensed mental health professionals are now barred from practicing “gay conversion therapy” on minors in Delaware, after the state’s governor signed a new law into effect Monday, reports USA Today.

With the signing, Gov. John Carney helped Delaware become the 15th state to restrict the practice, according to a statement by the Human Rights Campaign.

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"All Delawareans, including Delaware children, deserve to be respected for who they are, and I was proud to sign Senate Bill 65 into law today," Carney said in a tweet. "Discredited practices like conversion therapy have no place in Delaware."

Conversion therapy attempts to alter a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

The practice has long been discouraged by the American Psychiatric Association, which voted to remove “homosexuality” from the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) in 1973 following years of protest, according to Time.

Still, it has taken many years for legislation to catch up to the APA’s recommendation against the practice.

Delaware’s bill, SB 65, defines conversion therapy or “reparative therapy” as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity ... including any effort to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender,” noted HuffPost.

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“This bill sends an important message that a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity is neither capable of being changed nor does it need to be changed, and efforts to try to do so in the name of therapy have no place in our state,” said Board member of Equality Delaware Mark Purpura in an interview with HuffPost.

“Instead, we should strive to understand and support each child’s unique personal identity to better empower them to thrive in school, at home, and in our community,” he said.

As of April, almost 50 bills had been introduced targeting conversion therapy in 24 states, noted USA Today. New York’s governor has restricted conversion therapy, but there still isn’t a specific law banning the practice there.