Though conversion therapy is already illegal in nine states, a new California bill has been drafted that recommends harsher punishments for those offering “cures” for homosexuality. Lawmaker Evan Low, who serves as a member of California’s Legislative Assembly, proposed bill AB-2943, known as the Unlawful Business Practices: Sexual Orientation Change Efforts bill.
The new bill pushes for harsher consequences by suggesting “cure” and conversion therapies should be considered acts of fraud when brought before the court. California classifies fraud as “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” and mostly deals in bad business practices and lying to consumers. Low would have the section of the law include a clause for “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
Conversion therapies and “cures” often lead to depression in patients who undergo it, with some resulting in suicide. “Study after study has shown that conversion therapy is ineffective, damaging and counterproductive,” said Low in a release. “It is our duty to protect Californians from such deceptive practices that will expose them to physical and emotional harm.”
Organizations like Equality California, the Los Angeles LBGT Center, the Trevor Project, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have come out in support of the legislation. “Even today, both young people and adults are often swindles by unscrupulous practitioners who falsely claim that they can cure a person from being gay or transgender,” said Carolyn Reyes, Youth Policy Counsel & #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “People who go through conversion therapy, whether with a licensed therapist or an unlicensed organization, frequently find that they have wasted years of their lives and thousands of dollars on these fake promises. This legislation confirms what courts have already decided: Practicing or advertising conversion therapy is a form of consumer fraud.” Read the full release, here.