On Wednesday, the Anchorage Assembly passed a ban on conversion therapy for minors. This happened after a two-day public hearing. Conversion therapy is described as a practice that changes an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
The American Psychological Association and some medical and civil rights organizations have condemned such a practice. The ban was passed 9 to 2, with Crystal Kennedy and Chugiak/Eagle River assemblywomen Jamie Allard voting against.
This is a bill that would save lives, and it will when we pass it tonight.Assemblywoman Austin Quinn-Davidson.
The bill will prevent professionals like counselors or therapists from making efforts to alter a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It passed with an amendment to support parents to counsel their children, and another that excludes clergy members who act in a religious capacity.
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Amidst the time of the public hearing, most call-in testifiers were against the ban. They gave their opinion about the ban and cited that it could be encroaching on freedoms of religion, speech, and parental rights. It appeared to some people as an overreach of the assembly’s powers.
I received emails saying that I’m a pedophile or that I was molested as a child. Someone said that tonight. We’re people. We’re real people. And when you say those things to us, it doesn’t hurt, because it’s wrong and we’re used to it. But it’s sad. It’s sad that that’s where our culture is. But I know that we will keep moving forward, and things will get better.Crystal Kennedy.
People who voted in favor of the ban termed conversion therapy as child abuse, and also maintained that it leads to higher rates of suicide among LGBTQ youth. Some had gone through the practice themselves and pointed out the traumatic effects of conversion therapy they had to undergo as children.
Assemblyman Chris Constant praised Anchorage assembly for protecting and supporting gay youth. He maintained that some members of the community have been harmed by this practice. Anchorage has joined one of the some of the states and cities across the country that has passed bans on conversion therapy.