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Conversion therapy declared a fraudulent practice by California state Assembly

by Alex Madison

Assemblyman Evan Low
Assemblyman Evan Low  

Conversion therapy has been declared a fraudulent practice by the California state Assembly with its passing of gay Assemblyman Evan Low's Assembly Bill 2943. The Assembly passed the bill this morning (April 19) in a bipartisan vote of 50-18.

The bill outlaws conversion therapy - which its practitioners claim is able to change a person's sexual orientation - for adults in the state of California as fraud under the state's consumer protection laws. This is an extension of a 2012 law that banned the practice in minors authored by former Democratic state Senator Ted Lieu, who is now a member of the U.S. House of Representative.

Having passed through the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, which included support from Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-Dublin), and the Assembly Committee on Judiciary in early April, the bill is now on its way to the California state Senate.

"There is nothing wrong with who I am or who any of my brothers and sisters are in the LGBT community," stated Low (D-Campbell), who chairs the California Legislative LGBT caucus, in a news release. "It's time to treat everyone with the human dignity that we all deserve, while celebrating our identities."

More specifically, the bill allows victims legal recourse to sue practitioners. If put into place, people found engaging in conversation therapy could be stripped of their license to practice in California. It also makes it illegal to advertise conversion therapy.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, Low said the legislation would apply not only to psychologists and psychiatrists but also to any medical providers who are licensed under the state's Department of Consumer Affairs.

The practice uses therapy, hypnosis, and even electroshock, in an attempt to change an LGBT person to a heterosexual. The mainstream medical community, including the American Psychology Association and American Psychiatric Association, has long discredited it as a harmful and ineffective practice.

The bill is co-authored by all members of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus and 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.

"So-called conversion therapy is a dangerous, ineffective solution in search of a nonexistent problem, and there's no place for it in the state of California," stated EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur. "Once again, California legislators sent a clear, bipartisan message to the LGBTQ community across our state and around the world: 'You belong.' We look forward to the day when all LGBTQ Californians are protected from these dangerous, fraudulent practices."

Opposition to the bill includes conservative organizations such as the Capitol Resource Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the California Family Alliance, which claims AB 2943, "violates the First Amendment by banning books and church events to help people live according to their faith."

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