In a critical move towards enhanced LGBTQ+ rights, the Michigan state legislature, predominantly Democratic, took a stand against conversion therapy for minors on Wednesday. If signed into law, this action will make Michigan the 22nd state to ban the detrimental practice, aligning with a nationwide trend that favors inclusivity and human rights.
The first of these ground-breaking bills is designed to prohibit mental health professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy, a highly discredited practice aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Any violations could result in severe disciplinary actions, such as suspension or revocation of the offender’s professional license.
Not stopping at this, the Michigan legislature passed a second bill to embed the definition of conversion therapy within the state’s mental health code. The definition encompasses any effort by a mental health professional aimed at altering an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, behavior, or gender expression, or attempting to suppress or eliminate same-sex attractions or feelings.
Sarah Warbelow, the vice president of legal at the Human Rights Campaign, voiced her support for the legislation, emphasizing the importance of eradicating the harmful practice of conversion therapy. “No one should live in fear of being subjected to the discredited and dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy,” she stated.
Warbelow also highlighted the progressiveness of Michigan in the context of LGBTQ+ rights. “While it’s a shame that this practice has been allowed to take place for so long, today’s passage is just another example of how Michigan is rapidly progressing toward being a more inclusive and safe state for LGBTQ+ people,” she said.
If Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, signs the laws, they will go into effect after a 90-day period. This move would be consistent with Governor Whitmer’s track record. Back in March, she signed legislation that extended protections against discrimination to sexual orientation and gender identity under the state’s 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). This important amendment helps protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in crucial areas such as education, employment, housing, and public accommodations.
This brave action from Michigan Democrats serves as a beacon of hope and change in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It underscores the critical need for similar legislative efforts across the nation, shining a light on the path toward a more inclusive, safe, and equitable society.