US President Barack Obama has condemned the controversial gay conversion therapies across the United States.
Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett issued the following statement: “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”
“As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors,” she added.
The Whitehouse statements are a direct response to an online petition (which has amassed almost 130,000 signatures) which called for Mr Obama to back a law to ban conversion therapy of LGBT individuals.
The petition was started after a 17-year-old transgender youth, Leelah Alcorn, committed suicide on 27 December 2014 after Leelah’s parents had isolated her from friends (including pulling her out of school) and forced her into attending conversion therapy.
A suicide note, written by Leelah (born Joshua) was posted to Tumblr and read: “When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was.
“I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.
“If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids.
Leelah signed the document, and crossed out Josh, concluding: “Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something.”
After finishing the note, Leelah walked several miles, and eventually threw herself in front of an oncoming semi-trailer.
“We believe that change is still possible. People go to therapy because they can change, because it really does work,” David Pickup, a family therapist in California and Texas, told the New York Times. “We help people grow into their authentic selves.”
Conversion therapy uses a mixture of both counselling and prayer in an attempt to help some Christian’s stop experiencing gay urges.
Some States within the US have already taken the steps of banning the therapy (such as California), while other, more conservative states are thinking of protecting the therapies from legal challenges by implementing legislation.