Metro Weekly

California Assembly bans conversion therapy by classifying its as consumer fraud

Bill has earned support from several major medical and mental health organizations

The dome of the Capitol building in Sacramento – Photo: Alex Wild, via Wikimedia.

The California Assembly has passed a bill banning conversion therapy by classifying the practice as a form of consumer fraud.

Assembly members approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 50-14. If approved by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the bill would make California the first state in the nation to prohibit sexual orientation change efforts for both children and adults alike.

Equality California and the Trevor Project both co-sponsored the bill, which was introduced by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-San Jose). 

“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,” Rick Zbur, the executive director of Equality California, said in a statement. “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.”

The bill was co-authored by the seven other members of California’s Legislative LGBT Caucus and is being supported by top medical and mental health organizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the California Medical Association, the California Psychological Association and Consumer Attorneys of California have all denounced efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as ineffective and harmful to those who are subjected to the practice.

“The pain and fear suffered by those who have been subjected to conversion therapy is something that I can personally identify with,” Low said in a statement. “This legislation finally created accountability for those who claim to provide therapy but are in fact peddling an unfounded and destructive practice.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for debate and consideration.

California was the first state in the nation to ban conversion therapy on minors in 2012. Since then, 12 other states and the District of Columbia have either passed laws or insurance regulations to limit the practice on those under age 18. However, no such protections exist in law for adults, who, once they are of age, are considered competent enough to submit to therapies designed to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Human Rights Campaign praised the actions of the Assembly, and urged the Senate and Gov. Brown to approve the bill as soon as possible.

“Today, California legislators rightfully declared that so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a complete sham and those who offer this deceptive and dangerous practice must be held accountable,” HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse said in a statement. “California was the first state to protect minors from being subjected to conversion therapy by state-licensed health care providers, and today’s vote is an important step to protecting all LGBTQ people from this debunked practice.”


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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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