Conversion Therapy bills introduced in Congress

April 28, 2017 from the American Counseling Association

Bills were just introduced in Congress that prohibit conversion therapy as a deceptive act or practice.  The bills were introduced in the Senate by Senator Murray of Washington and in the House by Representative Lieu of California.  Said Lieu, “The bill is very simple. It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.”

These bills treat conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice because sexual identity is not a medical problem and it would be fraudulent to treat them as such.  The bills bar advertisements for therapies that claim the ability to: (1) change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, (2) eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender, or (3) be harmless or without risk.  The bills prohibit charging for these services.  Enforcement would be carried out by the Federal Trade Commission.  The bills were referred to the House and Senate Commerce Committees.

ACA’s position is that conversion therapy does not work, can cause harm, and attempts to treat something that is not treatable because sexual orientation is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.  The study that provides evidence that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA) in a report entitled, Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.  In this report, APA conducted a systematic review of the available research on sexual orientation change efforts – 83 studies in all. The report concluded that, “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.” In fact, the report documented that up to 50% of participants in conversion therapy practices reported harmful effects from the attempt to change their sexual orientation.  Please contact your Members of Congress and add your support to the bills.  Especially if they are Republicans.

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Janet de Vries

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