Sad news out of Virginia today as a bill that would have banned harmful conversion therapy to minors in the state was killed by a Senate committee, the Washington Blade reports:
Members of the Senate Education and Health Committee by a 7-8 vote margin tabled Senate Bill 988 that state Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) introduced on Jan. 12.
“It is extremely disappointing that our lawmakers cannot come together in support of a bill that would protect Virginia’s LGBT youth,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, in a statement. “We cannot continue to allow our youth to be put through this so-called ‘treatment’ that can cause depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. At best, allowing this harmful treatment on our youth is irresponsible, and at worse, it could contribute to the unthinkable.”
The House Health, Welfare and Institutions Subcommittee earlier in the day heard testimony for and against House Bill 1385, an identical measure that state Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County) introduced last month.
“Homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder,” said Parrish. “Prohibiting any health care provider from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with any person under 18 years of age is necessary to protect our youth as they come to terms with who they are.”
Mathew Shurka, who underwent “conversion therapy” in Virginia and three other states for five years, testified in support of HB 1385 and SB 988.
“This is about protecting children,” Shurka told the Washington Blade.
Shurka said some members of the commitee appeared uncomfortable with his testimony, rolling their eyes and giving him no acknowledgment during his speech.