Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, looks on during a hearing. AP Photo
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly voted Tuesday to continue allowing therapists and others to attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The practice is known as conversion therapy, and Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have been trying to stop it from being banned.
The state’s Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board barred conversion therapy in December. A month later, the Legislature’s Republican-controlled rules committee voted to temporarily suspend the ban.
Republicans brought a bill to the Assembly floor Tuesday that would prohibit the board from enacting any future conversion therapy bans.
The GOP opted not to vote on the bill out of concerns Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would veto it. The chamber instead voted 61-35 to place the bill in committee, ensuring that the rules committee’s decision to allow conversion therapy will stand until the current legislative session ends in 2024.
Conversion therapy for minors has been banned in more than a dozen Wisconsin cities. And at least 20 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed conversion therapy for minors, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a pro-LGBTQ rights think tank.
LGBTQ rights advocates have decried the scientifically discredited practice of trying to “convert” LGBTQ people to heterosexuality and traditional gender expectations as harmful, citing research suggesting the practice can increase the risk of suicide and depression.