Gay “cure” group accused of consumer fraud


Gay-cure-group-accused-of-consumer-fraudAn American group that claims it can “cure” gay people through so-called conversion therapy is being accused of committing consumer fraud.

On Wednesday, three LGBT and human rights groups – Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – filed a federal consumer fraud complaint against the Virginia-based People Can Change.

The groups described People Can Change as an organisation “that preys on vulnerable LGBT people and families by using damaging and discredited claims that it can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

They have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action to stop PCC’s “deceptive practices” and investigate all practitioners making similar claims. The groups allege that PCC’s claim that it can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is deceptive, false, and misleading and can cause serious harm to consumers.

They argue that PCC defrauds consumers into believing that being LGBT is a mental illness or emotional defect that needs to be cured. The groups also allege that PCC falsely claims that its services have a basis in science, and fails to disclose that they can lead to depression, substance abuse, decreased self-esteem, and self-harm, including suicide.

“Conversion therapy is abusive, harmful to children, and we urge the FTC to join our call to ban its practice once and for all. This is dangerous junk science that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is by changing the very nature of who they are,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“This historic complaint is not only the first clear opportunity the Obama Administration has had to end these deadly practices for good, but, if investigated fully, could very well be the final nail in the coffin of the entire conversion therapy industry,” added NCLR #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames.

The complaint comes as the movement to end conversion therapy, which has been discredited as ineffective and dangerous by most major mental health organisations around the world, continues to gain momentum.

In a landmark victory last year, a jury in a New Jersey Superior Court case found that a religious group, JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), offering gay “cure” therapy was in fact guilty of fraud. The group was shut down and ordered to pay compensation to five victims.

The states of California, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon and the District of Columbia have now passed laws protecting LGBT minors from conversion therapy, and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from conversion therapy.

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