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February 13, 2014 at 4:25 PM

House passes ban on efforts to change minor’s sexual orientation

The state House on Thursday passed a ban on efforts to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

House Bill 2451 prevents medical practices including so-called reparative or conversion therapies and any other attempts to change a minor’s gender expression or reduce sexual attraction to members of the same sex.

After a push to study the issue failed last year, former Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo — who sponsored the bill before leaving the House for the Senate in January – called for action.

“Sexual-orientation-change efforts are ineffective and dangerous,” he said at a Jan. 22 hearing, adding that the practices can lead to depression and suicide. “We should not study them, we should just make them unprofessional practice for health-care providers in this state.”

Republicans signed onto the bill after an amendment was included that supportive therapy and religious-based counseling would still be allowed.

Rep. Richard DeBolt, a Republican who earlier had concerns about the bill, expressed his support on the House floor. “As a Christian person, I can’t stand idly by while others sit through a torturous practice to change a behavior,” he said.

A hearing on the bill has been scheduled in the Senate health-care committee for next Thursday.

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