California bill would classify gay conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice

California bill would classify gay conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice
© Getty Images

A new bill passed by the California Assembly on Thursday would classify the selling or advertising of gay conversation therapy as a fraudulent business practice.

Assemblyman Evan Low (D) said the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation is ineffective, The Associated Press reported.

As a gay legislator who leads the LGBT caucus, Low said the practice is a personal issue for him.

ADVERTISEMENT
“This notion that we would accept as a legal practice that conversion therapy works is antithetical to my very existence in this body,” Low said.

Conversion therapy is harmful, Low said, and people who advertise or sell the misleading and fraudulent therapy should face a legal consequence.

The bill, now heading for the state Senate, would not impede one the freedom of speech or religion, Low said. It deals specifically with the commercial and financial transactions.

The bill does not ban people from selling conversion therapy books or talking about it — they just cannot advertise or sell the practice, according to the AP.

“You can still try to pray the gay away if you’d like, but it hasn’t proved to be effective,” said Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D). “To advertise that you can change someone’s orientation is simply that — fraudulent.”

Opponents of the bill say it infringes on the religious freedom of others.

“This is a bill that would be overturned by a higher court on the grounds of the First Amendment,” Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R) said.

In 2012, mental health providers in California were banned from performing conversion therapy on minors.

That law was upheld in federal court against similar First Amendment challenges, the AP reported.

Medical and mental health professionals — including the American Medical Association — say the practice is proven to be ineffective and can cause psychological harm.