(TheConservativeTimes.org) – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills into law banning conversion therapy and mandating acceptance for those in the LGBTQ community by mental health professionals. In a tweet, Whitmer said, “I’m grateful that today we’re banning the horrific practice of conversion therapy…Let’s keep working to expand our fundamental freedoms and fight back against any and all forms of discrimination.”
House Bill 4616, entitled “Mental health code,” amends the Mental Health Code Act 258 of 1974 by inserting a prohibition on conversion therapy. Professionals could face reprimand, revocation of licensing, or fines if they attempt the controversial practice in the state.
Conversion therapy, as defined in House Bill 4617, is “any practice…by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s…identity, including…efforts to change behavior or gender expression…or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.” Under the context of the bill, this would prohibit therapists from attempting to persuade minors of their biological gender rather than transgender identity.
This language would mean therapists must accommodate those who identify as transgender. Notably, the definition provides that conversion therapy does not include support for gender and social transition. Furthermore, it outlines that gender identity is a form of expression rather than an immutable characteristic.
Passing these laws makes Michigan the 22nd state to ban the practice. Previously, Whitmer had an executive order prohibiting federal and state funds for conversion therapy. The Michigan legislature voted along party lines to ban the practice altogether.
The Human Rights Campaign, an American LGBTQ advocacy and lobbying organization, asserts that highly rejected LGBTQ youth, who might be subject to conversion therapy, are more likely to have mental health problems. However, critics believe this framework assumes that the problem is due to rejection rather than that health problems are present due to status within the LGBTQ community.
This Michigan legislation comes as the culture war relating to LGBTQ issues intensifies ahead of the 2024 general election. While the Michigan Gubernatorial election will not occur until 2026, this legislation could politically mobilize Michiganders for Democratic candidates, or against them, in the upcoming state and local races.
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