Metro Weekly

Virginia lawmakers close to banning conversion therapy

Bill has cleared the Senate, a full House vote is expected this week

Photo: Sander van der Wel, via Wikimedia.

A bill to ban conversion therapy on minors has passed the Virginia Senate, while a companion bill in the House cleared a major committee with bipartisan support.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon), passed the Senate last week on a largely party-line vote, 21-18. Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Upperville) was the only Republican to vote in favor of the ban. Sen. Lionel Spruill (D-Chesapeake) did not vote.

Under the bill, any health care provider or counselor acting in a professional capacity who practices conversion therapy on individuals under 18 can be disciplined and potentially have their ability to practice rescinded by their profession’s licensing authority for “unprofessional conduct.”

The bill places into statute guidelines set in place by several licensing boards last year that define conversion therapy as unprofessional conduct and discourage individuals from subjecting minors to it.

It prevents those who practice conversion therapy, or refer clients to other therapists who do, from receiving state funds or contracts.

The bill also contains exemptions for parents or counselors acting in a non-professional capacity or as religious advisers.

A nearly identical bill, sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) was approved by the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions by a vote of 18-4.

All 13 Democrats on the committee voted in favor of the bill, while Republicans split, with five supporting efforts to ban the therapy. The bill will now head to the floor for a vote of the full House.

Read more:

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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