California Assembly backs fraud convictions for gay cure therapists

The California Assembly has passed a bill to implement fraud convictions for people who practise gay cure therapy.

Performing gay cure therapy on minors is already is illegal in nine US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided, and often extremely harmful. Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

A bill in California would implement the harshest sanctions yet.

AB-2943, which was greenlit by state lawmakers this week,  would build on the existing law to introduce a possible conviction under state law for gay ‘cure’ practitioners.

The law, submitted by out lawmaker Evan Low, would amend the section of the existing Civil Code section on fraud which deals with “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” – such as financial misrepresentation, false commercial claims and deliberate misselling to consumers – to include a prohibition on “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual”.

Evan Low

It states: “Sexual orientation change efforts means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

“Sexual orientation change efforts does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.”

The bill passed by a vote of 50 to 18 and now heads to the California State Senate for consideration.

If enacted, California would join Illinois and Connecticut in explicitly making ‘conversion therapy’ subject to consumer protection laws.

Evan Low, Chair of the LGBT Legislative Caucus, said: “Study after study has shown that ‘conversion therapy’ is ineffective, damaging, and counterproductive.

“It is our duty to protect Californians from such deceptive practices that will expose them to physical and emotional harm.”

HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse said: “Today, California legislators rightfully declared that so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a complete sham and those who offer this deceptive and dangerous practice must be held accountable.

“California was the first state to protect minors from being subjected to conversion therapy by state-licensed health care providers, and today’s vote is an important step to protecting all LGBTQ people from this debunked practice.

“We thank the assembly members who voted in favor of AB 2943 and urge the Senate to swiftly advance the bill to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.”

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington all have laws protecting youth from gay ‘cure’ therapy, while bills are pending in a string of other states.