“Conversion Therapists” to Receive Stricter Charges Under New California Bill
California has prioritized imposing stricter sentences on those who are found guilty of practicing conversion therapy. California made conversion therapy illegal in 2012 but reports of ongoing practice have continued to fluctuate to levels of concern. Lawmakers questioned if conversion therapy would continue if there were no threats of harsher criminal punishment. The new bill pushes for criminal and fraud charges when such cases are brought before the court. The California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) state classifies fraud as “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” and mostly deals in bad business practices and false promises to consumers.
A member of the California Legislative Assembly, Evan Low, stated in a passionate press release “Study after study has shown that conversion therapy is ineffective, damaging and counterproductive ... and it is our duty to protect Californians from such deceptive practices that will expose them to physical and emotional harm.” (LGBT Caucus Press Release, February 22, 2018.)
Several experts have spoken out about the emotional, psychological, physical, and even the economic results of undergoing conversion therapy. As for psychological impacts, conversion therapy significantly contributes to the development or exacerbation of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. Research on LGBTQ youth conducted at San Francisco State University found that "compared with LGBTQ young people who were not rejected or were only a little rejected by their parents and caregivers because of their gay or transgender identity, highly rejected LGBTQ young people were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide and 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression."
A notable case that commanded President Obama’s attention in 2014, was that of a transgender teen named Leelah Alcorn who committed suicide after receiving conversion therapy.
Zach Stafford, a writer for The Guardian, recounts a story of a boy he was friends with growing up that was sent away for conversion therapy. Prior to him going away, they confided in each other about having feelings for the same sex. When his friend returned home, he was aggressive and cyber-bullied by threatening to harm homosexuals on MySpace. The societal impact that conversion therapy imposes is that individuals in the LGBTQ+ community can be cured which allows homophobia, transphobia, gender phobia, and bigotry to continue to breed.
If you want to read the bill in it’s entirety, please visit here where you can contact Evan Low directly for more information, suggestions, and to remain updated with the status of this bill.