Virginia has become the first Southern state to ban licensed medical professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors, as Democrats in the state pass expansive civil rights bills after gaining control of the legislature and governor’s mansion for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Conversion therapy — a widely discredited practice based on the premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer is a mental illness — attempts to change someone’s sexual identity or gender orientation through different procedures that could include shock therapy.
Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that made Virginia the 20th state to ban the practice for minors.
Conversion therapy can include bringing up past traumas that the therapist believes may have caused homosexuality, or aversion therapy, during which patients are made to feel disgusted when looking at L.G.B.T.Q. people, they said. It can also have religious elements, with patients being told that their god doesn’t want them to be L.G.B.T.Q.