Republicans vote to continue 'conversion therapy' in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Assembly Republicans voted to allow social workers and therapists to continue to try and change a person's sexual orientation, a practice known as conversation therapy.

The action comes after Republicans on the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) voted in January to block a policy implemented by the state's licensing board banning conversion therapy.

Tuesday's vote referred the bill back to JCRAR, a move that will avoid a veto from Governor Tony Evers and prevent a state agency from banning the practice for the remainder of the 2023-2024 legislative session. This means licensed therapists and social workers can resume trying to convert LGBTQ individuals to their sex at birth.

The Republican co-chairs of JCRAR voted to suspend the rule put in place by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) board that manages licenses for social workers, therapists, and counselors because they argued the agency had no authority to implement a ban without legislative approval.

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) called the move by Republicans a "mistake" and "dangerous."

“Conversion therapy is wrong. You know it’s wrong, I know it’s wrong," Neubauer said during a speech on the Assembly floor Tuesday.

“This issue is personal for me, as a member of the LGBTQ community. It is personal for my family, as I have a transgender younger sister…I know we disagree on a lot in this building, but I have to tell you that I am so disappointed that we can’t agree to ban a policy that directly increases the risk of depression and suicide in children."

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