House Dems move to ban gay conversion therapy

House Dems move to ban gay conversion therapy
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House Democrats have introduced legislation to create a federal ban on gay conversion therapy.

The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, unveiled Tuesday by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneLawmakers mark anniversary of Martin Luther King 'I have a dream' speech Democrats worry diversity furor could spill into 2020 election House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment MORE (D-Wash.), would amend the Federal Trade Commission Act to clarify that providing conversion therapy to any person in exchange for monetary compensation or advertising these services is an unfair and deceptive act.

This legislation would force the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the ban to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from a form of therapy Lieu referred to as a dangerous and often overlooked form of discrimination. 

“This vitally important legislation has the potential to save countless lives across this country by helping to end a practice that uses fear and shame to tell LGBT people the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are,” Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a news release. “We’re proud to work alongside Congressman Lieu and our partners to send a different message — a message of hope, acceptance, and love where such a demeaning and destructive practice isn’t promoted as useful therapy. “

Conversion therapy, which is sometime performed by licensed mental health providers, seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the HRC said. The practice is based on the premise that being LGBT is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory, which major health organizations have rejected for decades.

HRC said conversion therapy can be devastating to LGBT youth and lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior.

Last month, President Obama called for an end to the practice after a WhiteHouse.gov petition called “Enact Leelah's Law to Ban All LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy” received more than 120,000 signatures.

The petition was named after Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender youth who committed suicide in December. In the note she left behind, she said her parents “forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity,” according to the petition.

"Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender don't need a 'cure,' they need equality under the law," DelBene said in a news release. "This legislation is an important step toward protecting the LGBT community and their families from the fraudulent promises of conversion."