In a huge step forward for LGBTQ rights, Democrats in Congress have just introduced a bill that would ban conversion therapy across the nation.
Called the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, and introduced by Representative Ted Lieu (D-Ca.), Senator Patty Murray (D-Wa.), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), the bill would label conversion therapy treatments as fraud with the Federal Trade Commission, bringing an end to most anti-LGBTQ therapy programs across the country.
“The bill is very simple. It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay,” Rep. Lieu told the Washington Post. “LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.”
Conversion therapy is an anti-LGBTQ therapy method in which counselors try to psychologically convince a queer or transgender person (especially youths) that they are not LGBTQ. While many right-wing and conservative Americans support the measure, conversion therapy has been derided as abuse by both activists and medical practitioners alike.
The Human Rights Campaign calls conversion therapy a “range of dangerous and discredited practices” that has been “rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades.” Undercover investigations have also revealed that conversion therapy camps are both traumatic and misleading, often employing guilt and shame techniques to convince queer and transgender victims (and their parents) to continue spending money on “treatments.”
Despite ethics and research, the conversion therapy bill will likely face a turbulent battle in Congress. While 70 other Congressional members have supported the bill, all of them are Democrats. Republican leaders may provide backlash or resistance against the measure, too, with some of the White House’s own cabinet members allegedly supporting conversion therapy programs. Most notably, activists allege that Vice President Mike Pence wanted to use federal LGBTQ organization funding and redirect resources to conversion therapy programs across the nation, significantly damaging LGBTQ citizens across the U.S.