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Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke said Thursday that conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice that seeks to change the sexual orientation of gays, lesbians and bisexuals, “should be illegal” because it is “tantamount to torture.”
So-called conversion therapies, sometimes referred to as reparative treatments, centers on the debunked assumption that sexual orientation can be changed by a series of procedures. The practice is widely decried.
“So we’re going to make sure that whatever the penalty is, it is steep enough to dissuade anybody from entering into this practice or being able to torture kids with the kind of impunity that we have seen so far,” O’Rourke said. “And we’re also going to recognize that these kind of practices, in addition to the immediate torture that that child or that person feels also adds to other challenges that we have.”
A series of states have made conversation therapy illegal.
In a recent study by The Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, scholars estimated that some 16,000 LGBTQ youth, ages 13 to 17, would receive conversion therapy from a health care professional before the age of 18 and another 57,000 youth will get that treatment from a religious or spiritual advisor.
That is happening despite the fact that polls have found that more than 50% of Americans support making conversion therapy on youth illegal.
The Williams Institute estimates that some 698,000 LGBT Americans have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives. You can read their report on the topic here: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Conversion-Therapy-LGBT-Youth-Update-June-2019.pdf