Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs the bill (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Surrounded by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy immediately signed a bill banning youth conversion therapy minutes after it unanimously passed the Senate Wednesday.

Conversion therapy is a practice designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and has been widely discredited by medical professionals.

The American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and other groups have denounced the practice, saying homosexuality is not a mental disorder and cannot be “cured.”

During the bill signing in his state Capitol office, Malloy said the bill is supported by the “science” and “our cultural awakening and awareness that we are a society of many different players … and we shouldn’t try to make everyone just like us.”

Malloy said no one should be subjected to therapy that doesn’t work and isn’t supported by science. Malloy has been a proponent of LGBT rights. He said the swiftness of the signing shows how serious Connecticut is about sending this message to its youth.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Sen. Beth Bye leads passage of the bill in the Senate (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Earlier, during the more than hour long debate on the bill, Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said the bill keeps with professional guidelines and doesn’t infringe on a parents’ decision to take their questioning child to a therapist. She said as long as that therapist isn’t using coercive methods to get that youth to be something they are not, then the therapy would be allowed under the legislation.

Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said it is very difficult to deny a person’s biology and “attempts to do so can be very damaging.”

Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, who voted for the bill, wanted to know how widespread this practice was in Connecticut.

Bye said they don’t know, but have a substantial amount of anecdotal information from parents and human service organizations.

“I am aware that this practice exists in Connecticut and is a problem for individuals.” Bye said.

The legislation creates a civil penalty for the practice of conversion therapy if money is exchanged between the parties.

The bill, which passed the House last week 141-8, was immediately transmitted to the governor’s office for his signature.