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    Limiting the Fraudulent Practice of Gay Conversion Therapy

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    June is Pride Month, a time when we recognize the sweeping impact LGBTQ individuals, advocates and allies have had in the U.S. and the world. It’s also a celebration of love, diversity and acceptance. It’s a great time to be in San Francisco, a city that has a long history of fighting for LGBTQ rights.

    Still, there are people out there who think that being gay is wrong. They somehow believe one’s sexual orientation can be magically changed through gay conversion therapy, even though several studies have shown the practice to be ineffective. Methods include counseling, hypnosis, or— in rare cases—electric shock. Numerous groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, oppose it because there’s no evidence that the therapy works, and it could potentially cause psychological harm. In fact, the APA advises mental health professionals to avoid telling patients that their sexual orientation can be changed.

    Gay conversion therapy for minors is already illegal in California, the first state in the country to outlaw this inhumane practice. Adults, on the other hand, have no such protections in our state. Assemblymember Evan Low of Silicon Valley wants to change that. His proposal, AB 2943, classifies gay conversion therapy as fraudulent, essentially adding “sexual orientation change efforts” to California’s definition of a deceptive business practice.

    I proudly supported this bill when it recently came up for a floor vote because I believe people shouldn’t be profiting from bogus treatments that claim sexual orientation can be changed. Families sometimes spend tens of thousands of dollars over the course of years for gay conversion therapy. I say enough. It’s our duty to protect Californians from deceptive practices that will expose them to physical and/or emotional harm.

    If AB 2943 is approved, consumers would have legal recourse and can sue their therapist or anyone who advertises or sells this therapy. In no way does this impede freedom of speech or religion. The proposal does not apply to free counseling provided by a church or other religious institution, and applies only to ads or paid services alleging the ability to change one’s sexual orientation.

    I was glad to see Assemblymember Low’s bill make it through two committees and the Assembly floor on a bi-partisan vote. It now heads to the state Senate for consideration. That’s great news as we observe Pride Month and reflect on the progress we have made as a state to love, value and accept all people the way they are. I hope you can join me and march in this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade. Please RSVP on my website (https://a19.asmdc.org/events) to ensure a spot and receive a commemorative t-shirt. There’s a lot to celebrate.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.