By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
On July 15, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (US) signed an executive order that effectively bans the practice of conversion therapy to minors. A win for the LGBTQIA+ community in the state, and yet a divisive move in the politically mixed state. Many on the religious right-wing have expressed their outrage on the executive order with bad-faith arguments that go beyond the first amendment.
In an article from the religious right-wing news outlet, The Family Beacon,— from the Minnesota Family Council (MFC) —described the executive order as “an example of executive overreach that will infringe dangerously on the freedom of young people in Minnesota to seek the care that is appropriate for them.
MFC CEO, John Helmberger, made the statement after the news broke “In legislative hearings we’ve heard the courageous testimony of many men and women who have had great, life-changing experiences with this type of counseling. At the end of the day, the Governor’s actions will hurt patients seeking to get the care they want.”
The same article from The Family Beacon featured a testimony from Nate Oyloe, a pastoral counselor who underwent conversion therapy, stating, “As a young person dealing with same-sex attractions, I enjoyed the benefit of good psychotherapists and faith-based organizations who helped me bring my sexuality into harmony with my faith as a Christian. I was not coerced or harmed—I was helped greatly.” Also adding, “It was life-changing.”
The MFC’s claims that conversion therapy is harmless are false and should not be taken seriously. At least not for all who undergo a conversion process. They also undermine the cases of unwanted conversions that are afflicted towards minors. A Trevor Project survey found that 78% of LGBTQIA+ youth in the US reported having gone through some form of conversion therapy before turning 18.
In a 2009 report from the American Psychological Association, multiple cited studies have shown that conversion therapy is anything but postive to all. One study from 1969, 52 years ago, concluded with negative effects being expressed by 8 out of 16 participants. Members of the eight have developed adverse mental health complications such as depression, anxiety, impotence, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts, and possibly more. The study did not look into the long-term effects of their therapies.
According to the Governor and Lt. Governor’s Office press release page, the executive order will have various government agencies work with health care companies to assure they do not cover nor fund conversion therapy and will open investigations on any health care providers engaged in conversion therapy in any way. The Minnesota Department of Health will also report on the harmful impacts of conversion therapy on those who undergo it.
The executive order was a result of a lack of legislation on the matter passing through the Republican controlled Minnesota Senate.