Conversion therapy, or the practice of attempting to convert an LGBTQ person straight through counseling, is banned in 18 states. Now, an Oklahoma lawmaker is working to protect the controversial practice in Oklahoma.
“There is a threat around the country to this freedom and we want to stand for this freedom,” Rep. Jim Olsen, (R) Sallisaw said. He told the House public health committee he will file a bill in the upcoming legislative session guaranteeing access tothe therapy.
The past two years Rep. Jason Dunnington, (D) Oklahoma City, authored bills to outlaw the practice for minors. Last year, that bill passed out of committee, but never got a hearing before the full House of Representatives.
“Sexual identity and gender orientation cannot be changed,” Allie Shinn with Freedom Oklahoma, an LGTBQ advocacy group said. “More than that, there’s no reason that it should be changed. There’s nothing wrong with LGTBQ+ people plain and simple.”
Olsen and Rep. Randy Randleman, (R) Gore, on Tuesday hosted a legislative study on “the right of therapists to help those with unwanted same sex attractions, and the right of clients to receive this therapy.”
Randleman, a licensed psychologist, tells News 9 he is adamantly against conversion therapy but supports legislation to ensure access to biblical based counseling.
The committee heard testimony from a Dallas conversion therapy lobbyist, Florida and Atlanta pediatricians and Oklahoma City Minister Stephen Black.
Black is the Executive Director of First Stone Ministries which offers services to individuals seeking "freedom from homosexuality and sexual brokenness."
“Why on earth would we ever stop someone under the age of 18 from getting counseling and therapy that they want?” Black asked during the study.
According to opponents, the therapy is not only harmful to minors but has also been dispelled by nearly the entire mental health community including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association.
Olsen doubts the validity of the medical community recommendations.
“We would all like to think that those things are done in a perfectly objective and unbiased way,” He said. “The reality is that politics are in it and in this around the LGBTQ politics.”
“It’s nonsense. There’s no controversy on the subject of conversion therapy,” Shinn said. “Every major medical association, every major psychological association agrees. You cannot change somebody’s sexual orientation and gender identity, and in fact, attempting to do so leads to lasting consequences.”