Maryland bans conversion therapy


Gianna Dallman-News Editor-at-Large, Ava Ghasiri-Creative Director

In late April, Maryland’s legislature banned “gay conversion therapy,” the practice of changing one’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions. Maryland has become the 11th state to implement this law, but it is controversial as Maryland has been the home of far more conversion therapy locations than other states that have banned them.

“This issue is not about Republicans or Democrats nor conservatives or liberals,” said Maryland Assemblywoman Meagan Simonaire prior to the House vote. “It’s not about religious values. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about the fact that it’s impossible to fix something that was never broken in the first place.”

Conversion therapy subjects its participants to a plethora of different therapy tactics. Many locations require fasting, solitary confinement style living and manual labor. These tactics are argued to convert those who are homosexual in the respects that the participants will be so displeased with their quality of living, that they will want to become heterosexual. Conversion therapy locations state that homosexuality will lead to a poor quality of living, like what participants will experience when in therapy. Christianity-based conversion therapists have widely agreed that God can never love homosexual people and they are going to go to hell.

Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific way in which one’s sexual orientation is pushed to change to what those who run conversion therapy locations believe is more “acceptable.” Usually, conversion therapy is based off religion. In most branches of Christianity, homosexuality is a sin; this idea is forwarded to those who are put into conversion therapy. Those in conversion therapy are usually minors sent by their parents, predominantly against their will. According to a survey by UCLA, in the 39 states that allow conversion therapy, over 200,000 LGBTQ minors will undergo the therapy.

Maryland had over 2000 registered conversion therapy locations prior to the passing of House bill that officially bans any location providing the therapy for LGBT minors. The bill passed 95-27, and was debated upon for three plus hours on the House floor. Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland signed the bill and said that it was, “A huge step for Maryland’s LGBT youth.”

“After all, homosexuality is nothing but ‘lust, porn and sexual immorality,’ sins that are applicable only to gay people and never to straight ones,” said spokeswoman for conversion therapy Medha Chandorkar. “But don’t change to make others happy or to save your family. Change because we are telling you that that’s the only way for you to become normal and acceptable to God.”

In early May, sexual abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz had a private meeting with the Pope of the Catholic Church. Cruz, a gay man, told the Pope of his struggles with abuse and his sexuality. For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, the Pope did not say Cruz was sinful in being gay, but instead told him that God made him that way and loves him.

Sexual orientations other than heterosexuality are becoming more widely accepted globally. In California, the Senate is currently debating a similar bill and it is expected to pass in early summer. Governor Jerry Brown has not spoken on the topic but he is expected to sign the bill based on his previous support of the LGBT community. If you or a loved one has been negatively affected by conversion therapy visit