Changing our approach to ending "gay conversion therapy," as told by the New York Times

A recent op-ed in the New York Times, entitled "Ending 'Gay Conversion' For Good" challenged readers to reconceptualize the best way to put an end to so-called anti-gay "conversion therapy." Instead of creating new legislation that explicitly bans the practice one state at a time, Jacob M. Victor, a law student at Yale, suggested we try a different approach---making use of laws that are already in place:

Legislative condemnation is a powerful public statement. But if the goal is shutting down as many practitioners as possible, this strategy has its limitations. For one thing, it’s unlikely that conservative states, where conversion therapists are most active, will follow suit. More important, such bans are likely to lead to costly and time-consuming legal battles. Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had upheld the ban, stayed its decision, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The bans tread on a volatile question: the degree to which the First Amendment protects speech uttered by professionals, like doctors and lawyers, in the course of their work. . .

There is a more promising way to put pressure on, or even shut down, conversion programs: existing state laws that forbid businesses and professionals to engage in deceptive practices. . .  Under commercial law, this is the very definition of a deceptive trade practice. Victims could sue practitioners for damages in state courts. With support from the Southern Poverty Law Center, several former patients did just that in 2012, seeking damages under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act from an “ex-gay” group called Jonah (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing).

Read the full op-ed here.

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