Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and 15 of their Democratic colleagues on Thursday introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, legislation to classify “conversion therapy” as a fraudulent practice that would be illegal under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority.
This harmful practice has been widely discredited by nearly all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological, counseling, educational, and social work professional organizations, according to the lawmakers. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act would clarify that providing “conversion therapy” to any person in exchange for monetary compensation, or advertising such services, is an unfair and deceptive act or practice. Furthermore, the bill would explicitly clarify that the FTC has the responsibility to enforce this provision and would provide State Attorneys General authority to enforce this provision in federal court.
“The false and damaging notion that LGBT individuals should be anything other than who they are must end,” Wyden said. “I was glad when my home state of Oregon put a stop to so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors and I’m proud to support this bill that would ban this deplorable business nationally.”
Under the Federal Trade Commission Act, the FTC has the responsibility to prevent business practices that are deceptive or unfair to consumers.
Last year, Oregon became the third state to ban the practice for minors. California, Illinois, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have also enacted laws to protect young people from these harmful practices by prohibiting licensed mental health practitioners from conducting conversion therapy on minors. More than 20 states, including Washington state, have introduced similar legislation. New York has an administrative policy against the practice.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Al Franken, D-Minn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
In 2009, the nation’s largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology, the American Psychological Association, conducted a systematic review of the evidence on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), commonly referred to as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation therapy.”
According to the lawmakers, the report concluded that “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates.” In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a report, which summarized the work of an expert panel. The report found, “that variations in sexual orientation and gender identity are normal, and that conversion therapies or other efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity are not effective, are harmful, and are not appropriate therapeutic practices.”