Wisconsin Republicans strike down state ban on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy

Wisconsin Republicans strike down state ban on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy
Image via Creative Commons.

Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature earlier this month blocked a ban on conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific method of "curing" non-heteronormative sexual orientations and gender preferences, that is illegal in nearly half the country.

On Thursday, January 12th, all six GOP lawmakers on the Joint Committee for Review and Administrative Rules banded together to strike down the Badger State's standing prohibition, "effectively making the practice legal," the Heartland Signal reported on Monday. It was the second time that conservative legislators relegalized the dehumanizing therapeutic technique that medical experts have repeatedly warned is "torture" and a violation of human rights.

ABC News noted that day that "an examining board in the Department of Safety and Public Standards developed the rule banning conversion therapy, drawing objections from Republican lawmakers who introduced a bill in January 2021 to strike it down. Lawmakers placed that bill in committee for the remainder of the 2021-22 session, avoiding a veto from Democratic Governor Tony Evers and temporarily suspending the ban."

READ MORE: Nine states seeking to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth in 2023

In July, a major study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association determined that conversion therapy is not just ineffective and financially costly, but that individuals subjected to it are left at risk of significant self-harm and/or suicide.

"Relative to LGBTQ individuals who did not undergo SOGICE [sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts], those who did undergo SOGICE experienced severe consequences, including serious psychological distress (47% vs 34%), depression (65% vs 27%), problematic substance use (67% vs 50%), attempted suicide (58% vs 39%; odds ratio, 2.27 [95% CI, 1.60-3.24; P < .001]), and attempted suicide causing moderate or severe injury (67% higher odds; odds ratio, 1.67 [95% CI, 0.76-3.64])," the researchers found.

"Despite the increase in public support for LGBTQ individuals in the US, current published literature reveals that SOGICE reinforces societal prejudices and stigmas through promoting sexual and gender identity rejection," they wrote. "Approximately 10% of LGBTQ individuals undergo SOGICE in the form of individual or group psychotherapy, inpatient treatment, or administration by religious leaders; many individuals undergo multiple modalities, typically as youths. SOGICE recipients experience increased rates of psychological distress, depression, substance abuse, and suicidality. Although these clinical and humanistic consequences are severe, no published studies have formally evaluated the economic costs of this unnecessary, harmful practice."

Meanwhile, the situation in Wisconsin is a microcosm of often violent fundamentalist campaigns throughout the United States to further marginalize and discriminate against LGBTQ+ communities, particularly drag queens and transgender persons, who are disproportionately victimized by right-wing culture warriors.

READ MORE: 'The worst anti-trans bill I have ever seen': GOP-led state houses are ramping up efforts to gut LGBTQ+ rights

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