The governor of Michigan, who holds progressive views, has prohibited a contentious form of therapy aimed at “treating” individuals identifying as gay. Conversion therapy endeavors to change the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians, and compel other members of the LGBTQ community to conform to traditional gender norms. Despite its previous widespread acceptance, there is now a swift push to legislate against its practice, leading to its diminishing presence.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) of Michigan approved a new law on July 26, prohibiting conversion therapy for minors. This controversial practice aims to convince LGBTQ individuals that they are heterosexual, employing diverse techniques such as electroshock therapy, drug administration, hypnosis, counseling, and spiritual interventions. Despite the range of methods used, behavioral scientists unanimously agree that conversion therapy is ineffective and can even harm the mental well-being of those subjected to it.
Recently, Governor Whitmer signed a law that was previously approved by the Michigan Senate on June 27 with a mostly partisan vote of 21-15 (one Republican joined Democrats in supporting the bill). This legislation prohibits mental health professionals from attempting to convert individuals under 18, who identify as LGBTQ, to a different sexual orientation than the one they personally identify with. The bill’s sponsors include State Representative Jason Hoskins (D), who holds the distinction of being the first non-white LGBTQ legislator elected to office.
After gaining full control of the Michigan legislature in January, the Democrats have been actively addressing LGBTQ issues. They have previously enacted laws to protect against discrimination, and now they are targeting a more contentious matter. Governor Whitmer’s endorsement of this law marks Michigan as the 22nd state in the US to ban conversion therapy.
Governor Whitmer has a personal connection to this law, given that one of her children belongs to the LGBTQ community. Despite the long-standing rejection of conversion therapy by scientists and medical professionals, it has maintained some level of popularity in Michigan. Shockingly, up to 15% of LGBTQ teenagers in the state report being offered this treatment. However, with the new legislation in place, such practices are now prohibited by law.