Conversion practices for minors banned in Minnesota

Conversion practices on minors have been banned in the US State of Minnesota with Governor Tim Walz signing an executive order just a few minutes ago.

“It is a day to celebrate, this is a day that says bring your authentic self, you’ll be seen, heard, and loved, in this state, and we want you to be whoever you are.” Governor Walz said.

“That should seem like a pretty simple statement, but the fact of the matter is it’s not the case.”

Governor Waltz said conversion practices had been discredited and could be very harmful and were not supported by any legitimate mental health or medical organisation. He said the Executive Order he was signing would stop any Minnesotan who was under the age of 18 from being subjected to the “torturous practice of conversion therapy”.

“Today we join 23 other states who have taken this step. There’s no place for hate in this state. There’s no room for division, our LGBTIQ+ community is part, and a huge part, of what it means to be One Minnesota, when they are hurt or put through this, we are all hurt, and when they succeed – we all succeed.”

“There’s someone out there today, a young person, trying to understand a complicated world, trying to struggle against things as they already are, trying to understand who they really are – and I hope they are able to see that this community, this state says, we see you, we hear you, and we’ll make sure you are in a safe place for who you are.”

Governor Walz said that while his Executive Order would stop the practice being applied to those under the age of 18, he implored state legislators to make it a law.

In 2019 the Democratic controlled House approved the ban, but it was narrowly defeated in the Republican controlled Senate. Today the Governor said there was “no room for hate” in the state.

Republicans had argued that the ban could impose on religious freedom as many of the practices that are covered by the legislation are conducted by churches.

The state’s Lieutenant Governor, Peggy Flanagan said there was no place for so-called therapies which tell children that they need to change in order to deserving of love or acceptance.

Senator Scott Dibble, who has long campaigned for the ban, had a message for parents who considered sending their children to conversion therapy.

“I don’t for one minute doubt that you love your child. But please pause, even if for just a moment, and see them as the entire, unique, special gift, you brought into the world. Everything will be alright. Your child will grow up to be the most amazing human being you ever hoped for when they were a baby, so please let them be that person.” Senator Dibble said.

Senator Dibble paid tribute to those who had overcome their trauma to campaign against conversion practices, but said the state’s politicians needed to take decisive action and pass the legislation to make the ban permanent.

Political rival sent his own child to anti-gay therapist

Speaking to the media after the signing of the Executive Order, Governor Walz admitted that today’s action would only stand while he retained the governorship, and he urged the state’s legislators to make it a law.

The Republican Senate Majority Leader, Paul Gazelka, has indicated that he is considering standing against Walz at the next election.

Gazelka’s own child has spoken about their experiences of being sent to an anti-LGBT counsellor as a teenager. Genna Gazelka, has spoken about how they are glad children will not be subjected to the practice.

“I’m glad that someone has stood up and is putting an end to this,” Gazelka, 32, said. “I’m glad that this will no longer be happening to any children in our state.” they told local media.

When the legislators debated the bill in 2019 Genna Gazelka recalled that her father had sent her to a clinic run by Marcus Bachmann, the husband of former Republican Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann.  The practice has previously been accused of offering gay conversion programs.

“I do remember a lot of horrible things being said about being gay,” Gazelka said in an interview with the Star Tribune in 2019.

Genna Gazelka, who identifies as bi-gender and uses they/them pronouns, said they were glad action was being taken.

“Having been in an environment, family and even professional environment that is not accepting of the gay community, I am heartened to hear that at least in professional environments, they’re not going to be able to break that professional code, limiting the harm they can cause in these developmental stages,” Gazelka told the Minnesota Reformer. 

Graeme Watson 

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