2023 Minnesota legislative session

Walz signs bills to ban conversion therapy, protect abortion and gender-affirming care

A woman talks to a crowd
Gov. Tim Walz signed a package of bills on Thursday including abortion protections, access to gender-affirming care and a ban on conversion therapy at the Department of Revenue in St. Paul.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Surrounded by advocates and supporters of LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights, Gov. Tim Walz signed three bills into law Thursday. They are meant to make Minnesota a refuge for those seeking gender-affirming care and abortions, and to ban what's called conversion therapy for youth and vulnerable adults in the state.

“It’s done,” Walz said as he signed the first of the three bills. “Minnesota says, ‘Welcome to a state who values who you are and protects you for who you are.’”

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan told the crowd Minnesota will continue to provide a safe place for those seeking and providing critical health care services to people who need it, particularly, LGBTQ+ youth.

“I want you to know that you are seen, that you matter, you are loved, we have your back,” Flanagan said. “We want you to be alive.”

People clap and stand in a room
Hildie Edwards stands with her family during the signing of two gender-affirming care bills.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

The laws banning conversion therapy and protecting gender-affirming and reproductive health care for patients and providers go into effect immediately.

OutFront Minnesota executive director Kat Rohn called the signing of the bills the most significant legislative win for the LGBTQ+ community in the state since marriage equality nearly a decade ago.

“This comes at a time when our communities all across this country are being targeted with an unprecedented level of harmful legislation and rhetoric,” Rohn said.

While many states have passed laws to limit or restrict gender-affirming care for transgender adults and youth, Walz signed a measure to protect patients and providers who travel from other states from legal repercussions. 

Opponents said the law infringes on the rights of parents and puts children at risk.

Of the new law banning conversion therapy in Minnesota, House bill author Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul, said, “This is just the beginning of what we are prepared to do for LGBTQIA+ individuals, because you belong here.”

People stand behind a man at a podium
“Minnesota says, ‘Welcome to a state who values who you are and protects you for who you are,’” Walz said.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

The third bill signed into law was a reproductive health care measure that would prevent legal or professional action against health care workers who help someone get an abortion or other reproductive health care. Some Republican lawmakers have called the law an overreach of state’s authority.

OB-GYN Dr. Kristin Lyerly from Wisconsin told supporters her home state is a “hostile environment for people seeking and providing reproductive health care.” Lyerly now practices in rural Minnesota, where there is a shortage of providers.

“Political interference in our personal health care decisions prevents people from getting the basic health care that we need and deserve, from miscarriage management, to infertility treatments to abortion,” Lyerly said.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, took time to acknowledge the growing representation among LGBTQ+ lawmakers that contributed to passing the laws, while also honoring LGBTQ+ individuals along the way who did not survive the oppression and discrimination they faced.

“We do this for those who follow us,” Dibble said. “But I also want to remember those we lost along the way, because that story of triumph isn’t true for all of us.”

A woman talks at a podium
DFLer Rep. Leigh Finke led the trans refuge bill and conversion therapy ban.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News