In a move which has outraged many mental health professionals, the Republican governor of the U.S. State of Maine, has vetoed a new bill that aimed to protect LGBTI youth from “conversion therapy.”
Despite the bill being earlier passed by state lawmakers, Governor Paul LePage vetoed the legislation, saying that the bill was “bad public policy.”
LePage who is officially the first United States Governor to use his veto ability to reject such legislation is now facing widespread criticism and condemnation for his decision.
The bill aimed to outlaw mental health professionals from practising conversion therapy on young people under the age of 18, was backed by numerous human and LGBTI rights groups, along with mental health professionals who discredit the practice which attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Arguing that the proposed law “is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counselling an individual even at an individual’s own request,” LePage added that it could also be “interpreted as a threat to an individual’s religious liberty.”
LePage insisted that “parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious belief.”
Marty Rouse, HRC National Field Director says, “Governor LePage’s shameful decision to veto this life-saving legislation leaves Maine’s LGBTQ youth at risk of being subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse.”
“With this inexcusable decision, Governor LePage has become the only governor in the nation to veto legislation protecting young people from this abuse, solidifying his place in history’s hall of shame.”
Activists have since called on the Maine legislature to override the veto. “Government’s greatest responsibility is to protect its most vulnerable citizens, especially minors who may not be able to protect themselves,” added Matt Moonen, Executive Director of EqualityMaine.