Kerr sponsoring anti-conversion therapy legistation

Posted on January 15, 2020 1:15 PM


Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington, lead sponsor of the Senate measure, on Tuesday referred to the practice as “conversion torture." Democratic Rep. Lisa Willner of Louisville, lead sponsor of the House bill, denounced it as a “discredited and dangerous” practice. Sen. Kerr grew up in North Logan.

Conversion therapy is defined by  The Lexington Herald-Leader as “discredited practice by which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are counseled in order to change their sexual orientation.”

“This practice is in fact not a therapy at all," Willner said. “This is a practice that attempts to fix something that was never broken. It is a practice that targets some of our most vulnerable and disenfranchised youth."

The proposals would ban mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with people under age 18. The same ban would apply for adults who are under guardianship or those who are wards of the state because they have been determined to lack the capacity for responsible decision-making, Willner said.

Mental health professionals violating the measures would face disciplinary action by their professional licensing agency. The bills also would prohibit public funds from going to any organization that provides conversion therapy.

Supporters of the bills said Kentucky would be the 20th state to pass legislation limiting the practice.

Meiners, a Louisville filmmaker, began working on a documentary last year about conversion therapy. He traveled the country to interview “survivors" of the practice as well as licensed therapists. The documentary will be released later this year, he said.

“No parent wants to hurt their child," Meiners said at the rally. “I know mine sure didn't. Most parents simply do not have the education or resources they need when their kid comes out. They're told about a conversion therapy, usually by a friend or a pastor. So they try it as if they're going to see a specialist for some sort of health problem. But that's not what this is."

Kerr told the Lexington newspaper that she is urging her colleagues this week to watch “Boy Erased,” a 2018 movie about a gay teenager ordered by his parents to enter a church-run conversion program. Kerr said the movie horrified her and opened her eyes about the practice.

“We all are evolving in our thoughts and our actions and in what we know to be human dignity,” Kerr said.


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