Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) has authored a bill that would brand so-called gay conversion therapy as fraud under the state’s consumer protection laws.
Conversion therapy is a controversial treatment that attempts to change one’s sexual orientation through counseling, hypnosis or even electric shock treatment. The universally discredited practice is already illegal for children—a ban that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Introduced last month and pending referral, AB 2943 would expand those protections to adults.
The bill would make it illegal to advertise, offer or engage in treatment aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation. It would also give people legal recourse by allowing them to sue practitioners.
Low, who is openly gay and chairs the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, cited a report by the American Psychological Association that found the practice “‘poses critical health risks’ and contributes to anti-LGBT stigma.”
“Study after study has shown that conversion therapy is ineffective, damaging, and counterproductive,” Low said in a press statement. “It is our duty to protect Californians from such deceptive practices that will expose them to physical and emotional harm.”
Low noted that conversion treatment has been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers and American Medical Association “on the basis that it is not evidence-based and potentially harmful to the patient’s mental health,” and “contributes to social stigma by characterizing homosexuality as a mental illness, a view that has been discredited for decades.”
Equality California, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Trevor Project and the National Center for Lesbian Rights support the legislative proposal, which is slated for a committee hearing on March 19.
According to the Bay Area Reporter, the conversion therapy bill is part of a legislative package tackling LGBTQ youth and health issues.
Low is also the lead author of a resolution that would offer a formal apology for the California’s’s past discrimination and oppression of the LGBTQ community, which dates back through the whole course of state history. In San Jose, however, it was happening as recently as a few years ago when plainclothes police exclusively targeted gay men in a series of public bathroom stings.