A bill banning a pseudo-scientific anti-gay treatment known as “conversion therapy” has been introduced to the U.S. Senate floor. If passed, the bill would prevent the use of treatment that purports to “cure” LGBTQ people of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Backed by about 70 Democratic members of Congress, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 would grant the Federal Trade Commission the power to classify the highly controversial practice and its practitioners as fraudulent. The bill was introduced Tuesday.
“The bill is very simple,” California Representative Ted Lieu, who introduced the bill, told The Washington Post.
“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. 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.”
The invasive counseling method has already been banned or heavily curtailed in seven states and several cities, but still enjoys support from diehard social conservatives in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, including Vice President Mike Pence. The therapy is often conducted by practitioners who are unlicensed and have religious, not medical, training, experts say.
According to the American Psychological Association, APA, the psychological treatment is rooted in antiquated 19th-century views equating non-heteronormative sexual orientations with “either a criminal act or a medical problem, or both.” Past iterations of the so-called “ex-gay therapy” commonly entailed the use of drugs that induced vomiting and paralysis, electric shock therapy and other forms of torture that were applied when patients had “same-sex erotic” thoughts.
Contemporary practices include psychoanalytic and disciplinary measures such as making individuals snap their wrists with rubber bands to suppress sexual impulse.
In August 2009, the APA adopted the « Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts, » which forcefully argued that the homophobic “reparative” treatment relied wholly on anti-gay bigotry and a clear distortion of scientific data.
“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is nothing more than child abuse and those who inflict it on others must be held accountable,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement Tuesday.
“Now more than ever, we must send a clear message to the LGBTQ community — and especially LGBTQ young people — that who you are is not something that needs to be fixed.”