Lawmaker introduces anti-'conversion therapy' bill

Conversion Therapy Bill Announcement on May 11, 2017 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

MENASHA, Wis. (WLUK) -- A new bill in the Wisconsin Legislature would make so-called "conversion therapy" illegal for minors. The therapy aims to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.

Local and state leaders in the LGBT community gathered at Goodwill in Menasha Thursday.

They announced their support for State Rep. Amanda Stuck's latest bill.

"It's really important that all the youth in our community know that they are loved and perfect as they are," Stuck, D-Appleton, told FOX 11 News.

The bill would make it illegal for any therapist to perform "conversion" or "reparative" therapy on a person under 18 years old.

Kathy Flores is the LGBT Anti Violence Program Coordinator for Diverse and Resilient. She told us the therapy can include hours of prayer, or even electric shocks to change a person's sexuality.

"There's a series of really destructive things that just break down the mental health of an individual who is very vulnerable at that point about their sexuality or their gender identity," Flores explained.

Flores said the therapy is not effective and can be damaging. She pointed out the practice is condemned by the American Psychological Association.

But Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, has another view.

"People who have unwanted sexual orientations or gender dysphoria should be able to get the kind of help they want," Appling told FOX 11 News.

Appling told us the bill is not fair to families' religious freedom.

"Really does usurp the right of a parent to be the prominent decision-maker about what they want for their children," she said.

Appleton Alderperson Vered Meltzer urged Stuck to write this bill to stand up for what he says are those children's rights.

"It's an experience that creates a trauma that people carry with them for the whole rest of their lives," Meltzer said, referring to the therapy.

Appling told us, however, she knows people who have been helped by conversion therapy. She said it would be unconstitutional to take away something that gave that help.

"Fortunately with the current makeup of our state legislature I do not anticipate this legislation going anywhere," said Appling, referring to the fact that the legislature is held by Republican lawmakers.

Stuck told us she still has hope.

"I hope that our Republican colleagues put children first and understand the importance of minors in our community," she said.

California has a similar law in place. The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected a challenge to that law.

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