D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, introduced legislation Tuesday to bar health providers from using gay conversion therapy on minors.
The controversial treatment, banned in California and New Jersey, often involves behavior modification and psychoanalysis to reinforce traditional male and female behaviors on gay people. The legislation would ban treatment and impose disciplinary action on the healthcare providers.
“Not only are these therapies without scientific merit, but these practices have proven to have long-lasting, damaging effects on children. Many children who have participated in conversion therapy suffer from increased risk for suicide, depression, anxiety, shame, and self-hatred,” Cheh said in a release.
A similar ban was introduced in the Pennsylvania senate in September.
“By adopting this legislation, we will send a strong message that the District does not believe our LGBT children are sick,” Cheh said. “Moreover, we are recommitting ourselves to ensuring that no child is subject to mental abuse masquerading as science.”
Homosexuality has not been labeled as a disease by the American Psychology Association since 1974.
Opponents in California have contended that bans against conversion therapy violate free speech and religious freedom.