RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia has become the first southern state to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he has signed House Bill 386 into law.
The measure outlaws the harmful and controversial practice for people under 18. The practice attempts to forcibly change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill also ensures that no state funds shall be expended for the purpose of conversion therapy of minors.
Northam said conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there’s something wrong with who you are and he highlighted the heightened risk of suicide.
“This discriminatory practice has been widely discredited in studies and can have lasting effects on our youth, putting them at a greater risk of depression and suicide,” said Northam. “No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are—especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
Delegate Patrick Hope sponsored and introduced the bill.
“Conversion therapy is a dangerous, destructive practice,” said Delegate Hope. “We should be supporting and celebrating our LGTBQ youth, not putting them in harm’s way.”