California Senate Passes Bill to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

It would be the first state to ban the practice on adults.

The California Senate has approved AB 2943, a bill that could protect LGBTQ people statewide from undergoing gay conversion therapy.

Sponsored by out California Assemblyman Evan Low, AB 2943 was first passed by the state's Assembly back in April. The bill is unique in both its approach to preventing conversion therapy and its scope: If passed, the law would outlaw conversion therapy as a consumer protection, establishing that practitioners who claim to be able to "cure" a patient's sexual orientation or gender identity are conducting fraudulent business practices under California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act. (Lawyers in New Jersey used a similar strategy to shut down a Jewish conversion therapy clinic in 2015.)

The proposed law would also protect children and adults—a significant step considering most conversion therapy protections currently in place in the U.S. only pertain to minors.

Now, AB 2943 returns to the Assembly for a concurrence vote.

"For far too long, LGBTQ Californians have been psychologically abused by sham therapists who are supposed to be caring for their emotional well-being," said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur in a statement. "We're deeply grateful to Assemblymember Low, Senate Pro Tem Atkins and Senators Wiener, Lara, and Galgiani for their leadership today—and to every member of the Senate who voted to protect LGBTQ Californians from these dangerous, harmful practices."

California is already among 14 states in the U.S. to ban conversion therapy for minors, plus more than 30 municipalities across the country. Other states with similar laws on the books include Maryland, Hawaii, and most recently, Delaware.

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