We Have Another Chance to Ban Gay Cure Therapy

Democratic lawmakers in Congress have reintroduced a bill to ban anti-LGBT therapy, a massively important step to ensure the credibility of therapists and protect the LGBT community.

Introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu of California, along with Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Cory Booker of New Jersey, the legislation is at its heart very simple: It states that LGBT identity is not a disease or psychological condition.

As a result, the legislation establishes that it is fraudulent to attempt to cure or otherwise treat someone to change their sexual orientation or gender identity — because there is nothing wrong with them.

Rep. Ted Lieu stated:

Today, I am proud to introduce the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 to ensure that no person is forced to undergo “conversion therapy.” Conversion therapy isn’t only ineffective, it’s also dangerous. Yet, those providing it charge families thousands of dollars and suffer few consequences. It is time that we put an end to this scam and pass this legislation, sending a message that being LGBT cannot be and does not need to be cured.

The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 was introduced in the previous Congress. The legislation would enshrine in law that an attempt to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity in exchange for money breaches the Federal Trade Commission’s ban on fraudulent business practices.

While this may see an odd mechanism to invoke, it builds on legal findings established in states like New Jersey, where perpetrators made unsubstantiated claims about the success rates of their change therapies in order to legally run their operations. This is textbook consumer fraud. 

What’s more, the legislation would specifically highlight for state attorney generals that they have the ability to enforce this ban in federal court. While arguably this power may already be open to many states with strong consumer protection laws, the federal act would neatly tie those strands together and make it explicitly clear that conversion attempts can be prosecuted.

The legislation also explicitly outlines why this act is necessary. It states in part:

(2) The national community of professionals in education, social work, health, mental health, and counseling has determined that there is no scientifically valid evidence that supports the practice of attempting to prevent a person from being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender nonconforming.

(3) Such professionals have determined that there is no evidence that conversion therapy is effective or that an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed by conversion therapy.

(4) Such professionals have also determined that the potential risks of conversion therapy are not only that it is ineffective, but also that it is substantially dangerous to an individual’s mental and physical health, and has been shown to contribute to depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, family rejection, and suicide.

Last year the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act died without being heard, a shameful testament to the partisan nature of politics at the moment. Indeed, evidence shows that young Republicans do not support efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation, and a large proportion also accept the settled science around trans identity.

Despite this, no Republican in Congress chose to back the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act in the last Congress. But why?

Tackling the main pro-cure arguments

Some groups on the religious right have argued the legislation takes away their right to seek treatment — usually for their children, whom they argue are distressed about their identity.

But there is no fundamental right to subject someone to potentially harmful, non-science based therapy. We would not allow this in any other sphere, and we cannot allow it here.

Furthermore, the distress that the individual might feel doesn’t stem from their sexual orientation or gender identity. In that instance, it comes from the conflict forced upon them by their inherited faith. However, religious interpretations are many and changeable. Indeed, the UK’s leading Christian counseling service has specifically stated it does not condone or promote the use of gay cure therapies. And that clearly shows that this is not a matter of LGBT rights versus religious rights.

Finally, while there is undoubtedly a restriction therapists’ speech — as cited in federal court cases surrounding this issue — it is a necessary constraint that is clearly outweighed by protecting vulnerable groups like LGBT youth from severe psychological harm.

So if the Trump administration really wants to prove it is a friend to LGBT people – evidence for which is sorely lacking at the moment — it can start by throwing its weight behind this massively important legislation and banning anti-LGBT cure therapy today!

65 comments

Carl R
Carl R1 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Freya H
Freya H1 months ago

People don't need to be "cured" of being gay anymore than they need to be cured of being left-handed.

Homosexuality is not unnatural. Thousands of species including mallard ducks, raccoons, pandas, penguins, giraffes, koalas, and a whole bunch more have been known to exhibit homosexual behavior.

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Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

How about enforced amateur electroshock therapy for every charlatan who tries to give someone else worthless cure-the-gay therapy?

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE2 months ago

Let people live as they wish.

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!!

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Jaime J
Jaime J2 months ago

Thank you

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Beth M
Beth M2 months ago

ty

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Beth M
Beth M2 months ago

ty

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Beth M
Beth M2 months ago

ty

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Beth M
Beth M2 months ago

ty

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