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Conversion therapy may be labeled fraudulent

False and deceptive practices associated with mental health or medical care may have long-term and harmful consequences. The California legislature is considering a bill that provides another civil litigation tool for victims of this fraud. The bill treats practicing or advertising conversion therapy as consumer fraud under California's consumer protection laws and allow individuals to file a private lawsuit against practitioners.

Conversion therapy is falsely promoted as a cure for LGBT people. Unacceptable, professionally questionable and even cruel treatments include hypnosis, injections and electric shocks. Major medical and mental health organizations across the world uniformly discredit this therapy.

The bill, in its current form, makes conversion therapy an unlawful practice under the state's Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Advertising, offering to engage in or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with another person would be illegal. The law would also allow any consumer who suffers damages from unlawful conversion therapy to bring a legal action against that person for damages and other losses.

The Legislative LGBT caucus sponsored this bill. Although state law already prohibits this therapy for minors, proponents argue that adults also need protection. A spokesperson for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a supporter of this bill, pointed out that people who underwent this therapy with a licensed therapist or unlicensed organization often learned that they wasted years of their lives with this treatment and thousands of dollars on fraudulent promises.

Other states are considering similar measures. Legislators in Florida and Maine are considering bills that would prohibit physicians and counselors from using this therapy on minors. Illinois, Massachusetts and Connecticut already passed laws making conversion therapy with minors illegal.

Source: Court House News, California leaders move to call conversion therapy fraud," Nick Cahill, Feb. 23, 2018

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