Michigan has just become the 22nd state to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills into law Wednesday — House Bill 4617, defining conversion therapy, which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and House Bill 4616, which bars licensed therapists from subjecting minors to the practice and lays out penalties for violation, including discipline by public health regulators.
Both take effect in 90 days.
“Today, we are banning the horrific practice of conversion therapy in Michigan and ensuring this is a state where you can be who you are,” Whitmer said in a statement. “As a mom of a member of the community and a proud, lifelong ally, I am grateful that we are taking action to make Michigan a more welcoming, inclusive place.”
Conversion therapy has been condemned as ineffective and harmful by every major medical and mental health organization. Research has indicated it heightens the risk of suicide among LGBTQ+ young people.
Equality Michigan praised the laws’ passage. “Governor Whitmer has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the wellbeing and safety of Michigan’s LGBTQ+ youth and is sending the powerful message that every young person in our state deserves to grow up free from the damaging effects of this dangerous practice,” Executive Director Erin Knott said, according to MLive. “By affirming that LGBTQ+ youth should be embraced, supported, and loved for exactly who they are, Michigan is paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive future for everyone who lives, works, and visits here.”
Praise also came from the Human Rights Campaign. “This comes on the heels of Governor Whitmer establishing the first ever, state-wide LGBTQ+ Commission this past June, in addition to signing into law a bipartisan amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) that explicitly includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” said a press release from the group. “All of this progress is not only due to decades of organizing by pro-LGBTQ+ groups and activists, it’s a direct result of the will of Michigan voters in the 2022 midterm elections, who rejected a dangerous, anti-LGBTQ+ campaign by radical politicians.”
“By signing the conversion therapy ban into law today, Governor Whitmer continued to demonstrate that she is a champion for LGBTQ+ equality,” Sarah Warbelow, vice president of legal at HRC, said in the release. “So-called conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that will hopefully never see the light of day again here in Michigan.”
Warbelow added that voting matters “because it directly led to days like today." She referenced Whitmer's establishment of an LGBTQ+ Commission last month and other pro-LGBTQ+ legislation supported by the governor.
In addition to the 22 states, the District of Columbia and numerous cities and counties bar licensed therapists from subjecting minors to conversion therapy.