The House returns to session on Sept. 23 and Sims said he will introduce the bill in October or November.
Last month, New Jersey, with Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s support, became the second state, after California, to ban the practice of therapists engaging in sexual orientation-change efforts for those under 18.
Sims told PGN his measure should garner support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as from Gov. Tom Corbett.
“I am not in the business of introducing bills that I think will not come into law,” Sims said. “Given what we have seen in other states as in New Jersey, I think this is a medical issue and not a partisan issue.”
Corbett’s office did not respond to a call for comment by presstime.
Sims said he has already seen bipartisan support, including from Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-143rd Dist.). He is unsure to which committee the legislation would be assigned; he said it could go to the professional licensure committee, of which he is a member, or the state government committee, chaired by anti-LGBT legislator Daryl Metcalfe.
Williams’ legislation, introduced April 18, was sent to the Senate’s consumer protection and professional licensure committee. That bill currently has six cosponsors.
At a Sept. 17 press conference at The Attic Youth Center, Williams said the state should follow New Jersey’s lead.
“When you talk about this type of therapy, it is very aggressive in nature and that is why it has been outlawed in a couple states,” he said. “Pennsylvania should be third in line to outlaw this kind of behavior. This is about human beings understanding the level of dignity among all human beings.”
Sims noted that the legislation is needed to protect youth.
“ I could talk for days about Pennsylvania’s status with regard to LGBT civil rights across the board, but when it comes down to it, if [conversion therapy] is banned tomorrow, that next day we are working to protect kids,” Sims said. “We want to send a message to practitioners around the country that Pennsylvania is joining the ranks and that this is not science, but science fiction. We want people to see and continue to see Pennsylvania as a 21st-century state.”
The press conference included remarks from The Attic Youth Center’s counseling-services coordinator Monique Walker and Peace Advocacy Network co-founder Ed Coffin.
Coffin said he was surprised that conversion therapy was still being debated and cited the demise of such organizations that championed the therapy, such as Exodus International.
“It is kind of astounding to me that we even have to introduce this legislation because to me is seems like it should be common sense,” he said. “I think, regardless of political affiliations or religious convictions, we can all agree that mental-health practitioners or any licensed practitioner should be using science-based arguments.”