In a deeply concerning move, Wisconsin Republicans voted on Thursday to reinstate the discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ people. This practice, which aims to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, has been widely discredited by scientific research, which suggests that it can increase the risk of suicide and depression.
The ban on conversion therapy was first passed in 2020 by a state board within the Democratic governor’s administration, responsible for licensing mental health professionals. However, a committee in the Republican-controlled legislature temporarily blocked the ban, and did so again on Thursday, with all six Republican members voting to block it and the four Democrats voting to keep it in place.
This decision is not only a setback for the rights of LGBTQ individuals, but also for the mental health and well-being of those who may be subjected to this harmful practice. At least 20 states and the District of Columbia have already outlawed conversion therapy for minors, yet Wisconsin remains one of the few that has not.
The decision by Republican lawmakers to intervene in this issue is “wildly out of step” with the norms for setting professional standards, according to State Sen. Kelda Roys. Furthermore, lawmakers should leave the entire issue alone because none of them are social workers or therapists, she added.
This move by Wisconsin Republicans is a clear indication of the ongoing battle for LGBTQ rights in the United States, with statehouses across the country introducing legislation to restrict access to transgender health care and to restrict conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
It is imperative that we continue to fight against these discriminatory practices, and ensure that the rights and well-being of LGBTQ individuals are protected. We call on Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin to rethink their decision and reinstate the ban on conversion therapy to safeguard the mental health of LGBTQ people.