Democratic Senators Patty Murray of
Washington and Cory Booker of New Jersey on Thursday introduced a
bill that would ban therapies aimed at altering a person's sexual
orientation or gender identity.
The senators' Therapeutic Fraud
Prevention Act is a companion bill to HR 2450, introduced last year
by California Rep. Ted Lieu.
Under the proposal, conversion therapy
would be labeled an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” under
the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) would be tasked with enforcing the law.
In a press release, Murray called
“conversion therapy” a “fraud [that] has no place in our
country,” and Booker said it was “harmful, especially to
“Our legislation will remove any
question that the FTC and State Attorneys General have the tools they
need to classify conversion therapy as what it is – fraud – and
ban its use,” Booker added. “Conversion therapy is a
discredited, harmful practice that has been rejected by countless
medical and mental health organizations for years. It has no place
in our society.”
The bill is broader than California's
first-in-the-nation law, which Lieu introduced in 2012 while in the
California Senate. That law is limited to minors and does not
include attempts to alter a person's gender identity.
The Senate version also empowers states
to take their own action against such therapies.
“There is no medical condition known
as 'being gay or lesbian.' That is not a medical disease, defect,
and for people to charge money to treat you for something that's not
an illness is fraud,” Lieu
told BuzzFeed News last year. “There already is an established
baseline that you cannot practice medicine below a reasonable
standard of care, and when you purport to treat someone for a
condition they don't have, that would be medical malpractice.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) applauded Murray and Booker in a statement.
“We are grateful for the courageous
leadership of Senators Murray and Booker in the fight to end
conversion therapy nationwide,” NCLR Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn
Reyes said. “This historic bill will protect the most vulnerable
among us from exploitation by those fraudulently claiming to be able
to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, save
countless lives, and send a clear message to every child across this
land that they were born perfect.”