Gov. Raimondo signs ban on gay ‘conversion therapy’ into law

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s now illegal for psychologists, social workers or other health care professionals from using practices that treat homosexuality as an illness, and trying to “cure” it in children under 18 years old.

Gov. Gina Raimondo held a ceremonial bill signing Tuesday afternoon at the State House. The bill, passed by the General Assembly earlier this summer, bans the use of conversion therapy for minors by licensed health care providers. The bill does not bar religious leaders or adults who choose the therapy.

State leaders Sen. Donna Nesselbush and Rep. Edith Ajello sponsored the legislation.

“Sexual orientation, as well as gender identity, is widely recognized by science and medicine as simply innate to a person. It is no more a disease or a condition that needs to be changed than is race or eye color,” Rep. Ajello said at Tuesday’s signing.

Leaders and members of Youth Pride, Inc., a non-profit support and activity group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, were on hand to support the law. “It’s essential that states take the initiative to protect all of our citizens,” the group’s board chair, Lisa Carcieri said.

Rhode Island is the 10th state to pass a law banning the therapy. The American Psychiatric Association has said it believes conversion therapy can be psychologically harmful, is rooted in “pseudo-science,” and notes the therapy has been linked to higher rates of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide.

“LGBTQ youth should know that there is a place for them in Rhode Island,” Gov. Raimondo said. “As allies, we must continuously rededicate ourselves to the cause of equality.”