Wisconsin Republicans block ‘conversion therapy’ ban



Wisconsin Republicans voted Thursday to allow therapists.

Social workers and counselors to try to change. The gender identity and sexual orientation of LGBTQ clients. — A disrespectful practice known as conversion therapy.

A state board within the Democratic governor’s administration.

that oversees licensing for mental health. professionals passed a ban on conversion therapy in 2020. But a Republican-controlled legislative committee blocked. the ban and did so again Thursday, with six Republican members voting to block. It and four Democrats voting to keep it.

LGBTQ rights advocates have condemned. The discredited practice of trying to “convert” LGBTQ people to heterosexuality. and traditional gender expectations as harmful. Citing research that the practice can increase the risk of suicide and depression.

At least 20 states. And the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy for minors.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, a pro-LGBTQ rights think tank. Wisconsin is not one of them.

An examination board at the Department of Safety and Public Standards has drawn up. Rules banning conversion therapy, drawing objections from Republican. Lawmakers who introduced a bill to ban it in January 2021. Lawmakers kept that bill in committee for the rest of the 2021-22 session. Avoiding Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ veto and suspending the ban.

Evers, who signed an executive order banning. The use of taxpayer money to fund youth conversion therapy in 2021.

Will almost veto the bill if it passes.

The ban was reinstated after lawmakers failed to block. It by the end of the last legislative session. It took effect on December 1 after Evers won re-election.

Mike Mikkelsen, chief of staff to state Sen. Steve Nass, vice chairman of the Rules Committee. Reiterated the committee’s rationale for suspending the ban in 2021. Telling The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. That the licensing board has no authority under state law to reinstate it. .

“It’s not about policy,” Mikalsen said.

Democrats disagree. State Sen. Kelda Royce, who sits on the rules committee, said. The Republicans’ decision to intervene is “out of step.” with rules that set professional standards.

“It’s disappointing that the first step the GOP is going to take this legislative session is to green. -Light abusive practices against children,” Royce said.
LGBTQ rights have taken center stage in statehouses across. To limit access to transgender health care. Conservatives have also pushed to limit conversations about sexual. Orientation and gender identity in public schools.

State Rep. Adam Neylon, the committee’s other vice-chairman. Opened a public hearing before the vote accusing the DSPS. Examining board of overstepping its bounds and creating public policy blocking conversion therapy. .

Mark Hurstand, executive director of the Wisconsin. Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

It amounts to unprofessional behavior that could lead patients to commit suicide.

“(The ban on conversion therapy). Is necessary to protect the mental health of children in our state,” Herstand said.

Royce told the committee that lawmakers should leave. The whole matter alone because neither of them are social workers or therapists.

“The Legislature is not competent to decide. What is professional conduct in a regulated industry,” Royce said.

Julian Appling, president of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action. Told the committee that banning conversion therapy violates. The free speech rights of counselors. Social workers and therapists. He said the state should not be allowed to jeopardize. Their careers for exercising freedom of speech. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

Matthew Lehner, a 19-year-old student.

At the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, told the committee. That he is a member of the LGBTQ community and is upset. That lawmakers are even considering allowing conversion therapy. Calling it torture and a violation. Human rights.

“I am outraged and sick to my stomach that such a proposal would even be considered in 2023,” Lehner said. “But, the way the Republican majority has waged war on autonomy. Climate science, and the people isolated. By their years of totalitarian rule does not surprise me.”

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