Conversion medical ban introduced in Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana

Indiana legislators introduced a measure this week that would ban conversion therapy for minors by licensed counselors.

Senate Bill 32, written by Democratic state Sen. J.D. Ford, would prohibit efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone under 18.

Physicians who violate the order will be subject to disciplinary action, including possible loss of their license.

“I hope my friends on the other side of the Isle see that this is not a partisan issue. It’s a lifelong issue,” said Ford, the first openly gay lawmaker in Indiana. “I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, we can’t give your bill a hearing, because we have to deal with Kovid-19.” Yes, epidemics are a big priority, but we can chew and chew gum at the same time. “

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy or X-gay therapy, has been widely maligned by healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health organizations and even are involved. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.

According to GLBAD, LGBTQ Americans who have been subjected to conversion therapy are nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and eight times more likely to attempt suicide.

To date, efforts have been announced to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors in 20 states and more than 80 cities. Except for Utah, most of the restrictions have been passed by Democratic-controlled legislatures.

Drew Anderson, an Indiana board member, said that passing such a ban in Indiana would be a turning point for the state.

“We can set a standard for other states that people see as Republicans about succeeding on LGBTQ issues,” he said.

It would also distance Indiana from the LGBTQ reputation gained under Vice President Mike Pence, who was governor from 2013 to 2016 and represented it in Congress from 2001 to 2012.

As a member of Congress, Pence supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman, and he opposed both the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have protected LGBTQ activists, And don’t tell “don’t ask”. “

As governor, he signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed some businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers. Legislation passed in 2015 provoked several boycotts and led to the cancellation of Angie’s list of $ 40 million expansions in Indiana.

And with Donald Trump as vice president, Pence is part of an administration that has protested illegal protections for LGBTQ Americans, banned transgender service members, and child welfare agencies to same-sex prospective parents Is allowed to decline.

“Pence has attacked us at every point and put such negative clouds around the state,” Anderson said. “We’re doing a lot to show people that Indiana is welcoming all communities.”

Activists have claimed that Pence supported conversion therapy by pointing to the language on a 2000 campaign website calling for federal AIDS funds to “go to institutions that provide assistance to change their sexual behavior.” We do.” In 2018, Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, insisted that she “has never supported conversion therapy and no longer supports it.”

Indiana legislators have previously demanded the cancellation of proselytization: In 2019, Democrats imposed a ban that failed to get a hearing in the General Assembly, where Republicans still hold supremacy in both chambers.

A significant difference since then is the rise of former South Bend Mayor Pete Batigi to national prominence. Buttig, the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate, went from a dark horse to a front-runner, winning the most delegates in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. Last month, President-Elect Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Batgig as Secretary of Transportation.

“The work that Pete did, running just for president, increased LGBTQ acceptance at Indiana Tenfold,” Anderson said. “In the end all these people know someone who is gay, even if he wasn’t there before.”

Batagiag did not respond to a request for comment about the conversion medical bill. In 2019, he said that being gay was something he was born with.

“If I was being gay, it was a choice that was said at the 2019 LGBTQ Victory Fund fundraiser, far above my salary grade.” “And that’s what I want Mike Pence of the world to understand. If you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me – your quarrel, sir, is with my producer.”

In some ways, the culture has moved away from rapid conversion therapy: ex-gay leaders such as John Paul have called it “debunked and maligned” and condemned its apparent presence in the 2016 Republican Party platform, which has “mother- Spoke of support for “father’s authority”. To determine the appropriate medical treatment and therapy for their minor children. “

Last year, Instagram announced that it would reject ads and ban content promoting gay “treatment”.

In December, more than 370 religious leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu, announced that “all efforts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression have been called for an end.”

Conservative groups argue that the conversion medical ban violates the First Amendment and impedes parental rights to what they think is best for their children.

According to The Indianapolis Star, Micah Clarke, president of the American Family Association of Indiana, said, “We are very opposed to the idea of ​​banning hearing.” “I don’t think we should ban what parents want for their children or what the children want … It’s a big order against counselors.”

In 2019, a federal judge rejected a two-year-old conversion medical ban in Tampa, Florida, ruling that the regulation of psychiatry is “a state, not a municipal concern.”

Liberty Council, an Orlando-based evangelical legal advocacy group, led a legal challenge against the Tampa ordinance, as well as a failed attempt to circumvent a statewide ban on conversion therapy in Maryland.

It also fought the ban in Boca Raton, Florida, which was struck down by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in November. In a 2-1 ruling, the court sided with two physicians challenging the ordinances in Boca Raton and Palm Beach counties, who offered the licensed counselor the goal of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender with “any counseling.” , Withheld from “treating minors with practice or treatment.” recognise.”

In a majority opinion, judges Brit Grant and Barbara Lago argued, “If there is a grounded doctrine based on the First Amendment, it is that the government cannot ban the expression of an idea simply because society can consider the idea itself I find it offensive or unbearable. “

This week, Republicans at the Indiana Statehouse introduced a separate bill that would prohibit licensed health care professionals from assisting minors in their gender transition.

Sponsored by Republican State Censor. Dennis Kruse and Jeff Raatz, SB 224 would prohibit treatment for the purpose of “altering, reinforcing, or confirming a minor’s gender identity” if it is inconsistent with the minor’s biological gender.

It would also outline “efforts to change, reinforce, or confirm a minor’s perception of a minor’s own sexual attraction or behavior.”

Kruse and Raatz declined to comment on whether their bill is also to ban conversion therapy.

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