Anchorage, Alaska voted to ban conversion therapy for minors on Wednesday, becoming the first city in Alaska to outlaw the harmful practice.
In a 9–2 vote, the Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance prohibiting licensed medial professionals from performing conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ people under the age of 18.
The ordinance only pertains to doctors and therapists, however, specifically excluding clergy acting in a religious capacity.
Medical and mental health professionals who violate the new law will be subject to pay a $500 fine.
Conversion therapy is a widely debunked and ineffective practice that aims to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity through electric shock treatments, hypnosis, prayer, and physically painful stimuli.
It can cause severe physical and psychological harm and places many LGBTQ+ minors and adults at an increased risk of depression and suicide.
10% of LGBTQ+ youth in the US have reported undergoing conversion therapy, with 78% reporting that it occurred while they were under the age of 18.
The Trevor Project’s Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs, Sam Brinton, responded to Wednesday’s victory, praising the Alaskan city’s decision to protect LGBTQ+ youth.
“The Trevor Project applauds the Anchorage Assembly for taking this historic action to end conversion therapy in Alaska’s largest city. According to data from The Trevor Project’s new national survey, LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not,” Brinton said in a statement.
“From Alaska to Maine, The Trevor Project is working in cities and counties across the country to protect LGBTQ young people from this dangerous and discredited practice.”
Anchorage is now the 78th city or country to establish its own guidelines restricting conversion therapy in the US, and Alaska is the 40th state to take action against the harmful practice in some capacity.
Only 20 states have banned conversion therapy on the state level.
In August 2019, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order banning the use of taxpayer dollars for conversion therapy, but the order does not fully prohibit licensed medial professionals from subjecting minors to the practice.
Lawmakers in Kentucky also proposed legislation to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ minors on Tuesday, but the General Assembly is not expected to vote on the bill until 2021.