Lawmakers in Olympia try again to outlaw gay conversion therapy on minors

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Washington state Legislature is taking up the issue of gay conversion therapy on minors. Those against the ban claim the controversial psychiatric treatment can convert a person’s sexual orientation.

Supporters of the ban disagree, arguing that conversion therapy is traumatic for the kids and it simply doesn’t work.

“Every major medical organization which has reviewed ‘conversion therapy’ has condemned the practice,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. “It is barbaric to deny young people their identity and we have an obligation to protect our children from so-called ‘conversion therapy.’

Related: Washington will allow gender ‘X’ option on birth certificates

Similar bills were brought up in 2015 and 2014. They passed the Democratically-controlled House both times. The then-Republican-led Senate took no action on the 2014 bill. They passed the 2015 bill. However, refused to consider a modified version of the House.

But after the election of Manka Dhingra this past November, control of the Senate was put back into the hands of Democrats and they believe they could finally have the votes in the upper chamber to pass a law that outlaws conversion therapy.

The bill would establish sanctions against people in the mental health profession who push kids into the therapy including anything from possible fines to license revocation or suspension.

The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee is set to hear the legislation Thursday morning.