Pennsylvania officials propose ban on anti-gay ‘conversion therapy’ for minors

State Rep. Brian Sims.
Rep. Brian Sims will co-sponsor the bill. Credit: Metro

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims will hold a press conference tomorrow to detail legislation he plans to propose with state Rep. Gerald Mullery that would ban mental health providers from engaging in anti-gay “conversion therapy” for minors.

Conversion therapy is used to describe a range of treatments that claim to “reform” or “cure” individuals of their homosexuality and “restore” them to heterosexuals.

One local example would be conservative Catholic group Courage’s sports camp held this past May at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.

The camp, whose presence drew protests from social justice nonprofit The Peace Advocacy Network, claims to help gay men repair their “sports wound” and become “manlier.”

Also on hand for tomorrow’s announcement will be state Sen. Anthony Williams, who together with several co-sponsors this spring brought forth similar legislation in the Senate prohibiting state-licensed medical professionals in Pennsylvania from “engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under the age of 18.”

That bill is currently in a Senate committee.

“In 2009, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation issued a report, concluding that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, self-blame, a loss of faith, high-risk sexual behaviors, among several other negative psychological effects,” Williams wrote in a memorandum issued in March.

He further noted methods used to “repair” homosexuality are based on developmental theories of “questionable” scientific validity and “pose a danger to the mental health of children.”

Tomorrow’s announcement comes nearly one month after Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a ban on conversion therapy in New Jersey and several weeks after an appeals court upheld California’s outlawing of the practice.

The news conference is slated for 2:30 p.m. at the Attic Youth Center, located at 255 S. 16th St.

Also scheduled to speak are Peace Advocacy Network campaign director Ed Coffin and Attic Youth Center counseling services coordinator Monique Walker.


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