Texas Republican lawmakers have introduced a sweeping anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill that could allow “ex-gay” therapists to keep their licenses even if the dangerous, discredited practice is banned by the state.
Senate Bill 651, filed last week by three Republican legislators, would prohibit state agencies that are responsible for regulating more than 65 licensed occupations from taking action against those who choose not to comply with professional standards due to religious objections.
David Pickup, who identifies as “ex-homosexual” and practices reparative therapy in Dallas, told the Texas Observer that SB 651 would be “a good step in the right direction.”
“For those therapists who are religious, certainly it would apply,” said Pickup, who’s also fought efforts to ban reparative therapy in other states. “There are a lot of therapists that have very sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In 2014, Pickup helped write a plank endorsing reparative therapy that was added to the Texas GOP platform. He later erected a billboard (above) advertising his practice in Dallas, only to have it taken down by an advertising company.
Five states and several cities have banned reparative therapy for minors, and while Texas is unlikely to do so anytime soon, SB 651 would have major implications for other professions. Eunice Hyon Min Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, said the bill could lead to rampant discrimination against LGBT people and other groups by anyone who is licensed by the state, from doctors to teachers to law enforcement officers.
“This is incredibly broadly written,” Rho told the Observer. “It’s just really alarming. There are no limitations to this bill.”