Oregon 'conversion therapy' ban heading to Governor

The Oregon Senate approved legislation Thursday banning "conversion therapy" for minors.

The controversial practice, also known as "reparative therapy," aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity and is based on the view that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

"Conversion therapy at its core, I believe, is an act of violence on a young person's self," Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, said. "Every leading mental health professional organization opposes conversion therapy."

California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. already have banned conversion therapy for minors, and more than a dozen states have similar legislation pending.

Earlier this month, President Obama came out in support of bans on conversion therapy for children.

The practice "puts youth at serious risk for depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and suicide," said Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland.

House Bill 2307, the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, applies only to licensed mental or social health care professionals, and only to therapy given to children under 18.

The bill now goes to Gov. Kate Brown for consideration. Her office declined to say whether she plans to sign it into law.

The legislation was supported by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Human Rights Campaign and Basic Rights Oregon.

"No young person should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited practice that uses fear and shame to tell them the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are," Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement.

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