Connecticut lawmakers joined with LGBTQ advocates on Monday to support legislation banning conversion therapy.
The proposed bill would prohibit licensed health care professionals in Connecticut from engaging in conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, for anyone under the age of 18.
Rep. Jeff Currey said he introduced the legislation with Sen. Beth Bye. The bill is called "an act concerning the protection of youth from conversion therapy."
Currey called it a discredited and harmful practice that seeks to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity.
"As a gay youth and as a gay adult for that matter, never was I broken nor needed to be fixed,” Currey said at a news conference at Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Monday morning. “Being gay is not a disease, therefore it does not require a cure."
Currey is an openly gay state lawmaker. He and a number of gay and human rights groups were supporting the legislation.
"The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychological Association all support this bill,” state Rep. Matt Ritter(D-Hartford) said.
In many cases, it starts with parents who seek help from religious groups to change their children to make them "straight." The children are coerced into psychiatric counseling.
The practice is already banned in a few states, including Vermont. Much of this legislation centers around Vice President Mike Pence who supports conversion therapy.
"Right now to use this looks like a solution in search of a problem to the best of our knowledge this doesn't exist anywhere in Connecticut,” Peter Wolfgang with Family Institute of Connecticut said.
"It happens in the underground,” Robin McHaelen with True Colors said. “It happens directly."
McHaelen said she is offended by those who call this is a non-issue. She added it's happening and is causing severe trauma and in some cases, suicide.
"From the work, I have done with kids,” McHaelen said. “This hurts them at their deepest level and no matter what we do after that they always have this wondering and fear. What if they were right?”
Those who support this bill said children who are rejected because of their sexual identity are more likely to be depressed and commit suicide.
The bill would impose fees on doctors who try to convert and even take their license away.
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