Unfortunately, there are only a handful of states that have laws banning gay conversion therapy outright. In 2012, California was one state to ban the practice. The law was recently called into question, but this week, the California Supreme Court ruled that conversion therapy is still illegal, protecting LGBTQ minors from being forced (or fooled) into the fraudulent practice.
Donald Welch, a man in charge of “reparative therapy” at the Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego, asked the highest court to reconsider the ban for the third time this year. But the court wasn’t having it, maintaining that outlawing the practice doesn’t infringe on the rights of clergy people to do their jobs.
The law in California prohibits any state-licensed counselor, from psychologists to social workers, from offering any kind of therapy to to “fix” the sexual orientation of minors. Only New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia have laws banning the practice on the books, and hopefully more states, and eventually the federal government will follow suit.
Conversion therapy is based on the idea that sexual orientation is some sort of disorder or choice, which it it not.
The Human Rights Campaign — along with the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association — all stand by the fact that there is no evidence or research that shows conversion therapy can or should change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Actually, minors who have had participated in gay conversion therapy are actually more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and are at a higher risk for STDs or HIV/AIDS.
Although many of the arguments against gay conversion therapy are based in science and ethics for these organizations, Democrats in Congress might have found a loophole to outlaw it nationwide.
They introduced a bill last week called the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, and it falls under the scope of consumer protection. The thinking is that since the practice doesn’t work, anyone who offers the therapy is basically selling a bum product. While it would be ideal if the law could pass in the name of equality and human rights, if politicians can ban the practice using consumer protections, who’s to stop them?
For now though, it’s up to states to uphold their laws or reintroduce new ones in states that have no protections for LGBTQ youth.