Cecilie Johnsen

“No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are.”

Virginia has became the 20th state (and first in the South) to outlaw gay ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ minors.

Governor Ralph Northam, who signed the ban into law on Tuesday (3 March), said in a statement: “Conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are.

“This discriminatory practice has been widely discredited in studies and can have lasting effects on our youth, putting them at a greater risk of depression and suicide. No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are.”

Northam added that children should never have to experience ‘conversion therapy’ and that he’s “proud to sign this ban”.

The Trevor Project, the nation’s largest LGBTQ suicide prevention organisation, praised the decision.

“Conversion therapy has no place in modern society and as the first of many LGBTQ-affirming bills to reach the desk of Governor Northam, we are happy to sweep conversion therapy into the dustbin of history,” said a representative.

Sam Brinton, their head of advocacy and government affairs and a survivor of gay ‘conversion therapy’, said he “can’t fathom just how many LGBTQ+ lives may be saved with these critical protections from conversion therapy.”

He added: “At The Trevor Project, we hear from LGBTQ+ youth in crisis every day and we know that those who are subjected to conversion therapy are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide. This bold action will send a message to all LGBTQ+ young people in the great Commonwealth of Virginia that they are loved and deserve support.”

Adrian Trimmer, another survivor of ‘conversion therapy’ and ambassador for the #BornPerfect campaign seeking to ban the practice in all 50 states, said the decision “is a historic affirmation of LGBTQ dignity and equality.”

Other states to ban the practice are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

Related: Dan Reynolds met with Equality Caucus to help ban gay ‘conversion therapy’.