California is one step closer to labeling conversion therapy a fraudulent business practice.
AB 2943 would label conversion therapy a false business practice under the State’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and give consumer protections to anyone harmed by attempts to change their sexual orientation.
The bill passed the State Senate today in a 25 to 11 vote. The bill returns to the Assembly, who must do a concurrence vote by August 31, the deadline for a bill to be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.
“The pain and fear suffered by those who have been subjected to conversion therapy is something that I can personally identify with,” Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Cupertino), who identifies as gay and authored the bill, has said. “This legislation finally creates accountability for those who claim to provide therapy, but are in fact peddling an unfounded and destructive practice.”
The bill would not impact freedom of speech, including books or religion. It applies only when money is exchanged for services or treatment, Low said.
As a result, families and religious groups and leaders would be allowed to continue using the discredited practice.
Numerous studies have discredited conversion therapy. For example, in 2009, after a review of 83 studies published between 1960 and 2007, an American Psychological Association task force said that conversion therapy doesn’t work and “poses critical health risks.”
Earlier this year, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law published a study saying 77,000 LGBT youth would be harmed by conversion therapy.
Several mental health groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Medical Association, oppose conversion therapy. They have said it’s harmful to the a patient’s mental health and contributes to social stigma by characterizing homosexuality as a mental illness, a view that has been discredited for decades.
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In 2012, California banned licensed mental health providers from performing conversion therapy with a patient under 18 years of age.
Low’s bill is supported by Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Sacramento LGBT Center, the Trevor Project, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.