In the darker days of U.S. history, “conversion therapy” was used as a means to force members of the LGBTQ community to live a heterosexual lifestyle. The use of electric shot treatments, forced nausea and biased therapy practices were used to “cure” what many people welt was a disease. While there are still institutions that support these methods, a group of Democratic Congress members are working to ban their existence.
The Washington Post reports that the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 was introduced to allow the Federal Trade Commission to treat “conversion therapy” institutions and practitioners as fraudulent.
“The bill is very simple,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told The 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.”
It’s no secret that the scientific findings of the past are severely flawed. Many of them have biases and restricted information researchers had in the past. With years worth of added information and the work of LGBTQ advocacy groups, more people understant that “reparative therapy” can have major risks on patients.
“There is no single model because this is not a science, but it’s all incredibly harmful,” said Xavier Persad, legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. “It’s a quack science. It’s not based on science. We’ve heard and seen so many things, everything from folks being encouraged to not speak to their mothers and sisters, because somehow that is affecting their sexuality, all the way up until very incredibly inappropriate interactions between therapists and patients in various states of undress.”
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Studies have shown that people who have gone through “conversion” therapy are eight times more likely to attempt suicide. They are also six times more likely to report symptoms of high level depression. This is believed to be tied to the questions of self-worth and identity that are raised during therapy.
“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is nothing more than child abuse and those who inflict it on others must be held accountable,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “HRC thanks Senators Murray and Booker and Representative Lieu for their efforts to outlaw this dangerous and inhumane practice. 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.”
Lieu joins more than 70 other members of Congress – all Democrats – who vow to support the bill going forward. However, questions are still in the air concerning how their counterparts across the aisle will feel once it goes to a vote.
The waters surrounding Vice President Mike Pence are still murky concerning his suspected support of “conversion therapy.” When asked for his stance on the bill, the Vice President’s press secretary Marc Lotter responded by saying he “does not offer his opinion on any proposed legislation outside of the official position of the White House.”