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House passes ban on aversion therapy on minors; bill heads back to Senate

by caprecord

A Senate bill that bans aversion therapy for minors passed the House on Thursday, but will head back to the Senate after it was amended to include talk conversion therapy in the ban.

Aversion therapy includes methods such as electric shock and ice baths to dissuade people from targeted behaviors. Opponents of that type of therapy say it has been used to try to convert gay people to straight.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, told members she hears from gay people, both young and old, who continue struggle from the effects of aversion therapy and talk conversion therapy used in efforts to change their sexual orientations.

“It has long-lasting, lifetime negative effects. Here’s one effect it doesn’t have: It doesn’t convert anybody. It doesn’t work,” she said.

The bill as passed in the Senate focused on the aversion methods. The revised version passed by the House also bans counselors from using talk therapy to try to change someone’s sexual orientation.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, says the revised version has constitutional implications and changes his vote.

“We had a very good agreement on addressing the bad things — the shock therapy and ice baths. We all agree those are bad and the underlying bill would have addressed that very clearly,” he said.

However, he says the amended version of the bill interferes with the counselor-patient relationship. “We don’t need the state getting involved directly in that,” he said.

The bill passed with a vote of 60 to 37, and heads back to the Senate with the amendments.