Hawaii Legislature Passes Bill Banning Conversion Therapy

The law "ensures that LGBTQ youth will not be tortured by mental health professionals."

On Friday, lawmakers in Hawaii cleared the way for SB 270, a ban on licensed therapists performing conversion therapy on minors, to be sent on to Democratic Governor David Ige, who is expected to sign it into law.

The State Senate passed SB 270 in March with just one nay vote. It cleared the House of Representatives earlier this month, but the addition of several amendments meant the measure was sent to conference committee. On Friday, it cleared committee and now heads to Ige's desk.

"This has been a priority of the caucus for years," said Michael Golojuch, chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii's LGBT Caucus. SB 270 "ensures that LGBTQ youth will not be tortured by mental health professionals."

Praising the Senate for passing the bill, HRC's JoDee Winterhof called conversion therapy "nothing short of child abuse with life-threatening consequences for countless LGBTQ youth."

Doug Chin/Lieutenant Governor’s Office

Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, now running for Congress, said he supported the bill "based upon my firmly held belief that no one should ever be made to feel there is something ‘wrong’ with them because of who they love or how they identify.”

As attorney general, Chin defended Hawaii's marriage equality but he but came under criticism for a 1995 speech at the Oahu Church of Christ, in which a 20-something Chin told families supportive of LGBT youth, "The Bible is right, your family is wrong! Is there any shame in that? What's so bad about that? God is right, your family is wrong."

Chin, now 51, has apologized for the sermon, saying he had "grown up a lot since then."

But State Representative Kaniela Ing claims he's just lying for political gain. Ing points to a history of Chin "preaching anti-gay and anti-choice sermons."

"To see him fighting for this conservative, anti-gay, anti-women values for his whole life, then all of a sudden change his mind, is disingenuous." He claims Oahu Church of Christ held a pray-the-gay-away conference as recently as 2016. "So it’s very frustrating to me to see him flip-flop now that he is running for Congress. If Chin truly had a change of heart, he would apologize for his years of denouncing LGBTQ people and denounce the destructive teachings of his Church."

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, some 20,000 LGBTQ minors be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional in states without such protections.

Correction: A previous version of this article described Hawaii as the 12th state to pass a ban on conversion therapy. The governor has not yet signed the bill into law.

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