The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act

The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, H.R. 2450, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Ted Lieu of California on May 19, 2015. Sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it is currently languishing in the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

It attempts to fight both sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapies, regulating such activity under the Federal Trade Commission. This is due to the focus of HR 2450: (a) prohibiting conversion therapies from being provided in exchange for monetary compensation, and (b) banning advertisements for such therapy that claim to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, eliminate or reduce sexual/romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender, or be harmless or without risk.  The bill makes a strong statement about the inappropriate premise behind conversion therapies, the lack of evidence for the efficacy of such techniques despite the claims made by their proponents, and the potential risks of such therapies. Therefore, the bill categorizes such practices as fraudulent and deceptive, for the purpose of monetary gain, to be addressed under Section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

In this regard, it follows the strategy used by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey in 2012, charging the organization JONAH ("Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing" -- but formerly "Jews Offering New Alternatives for Homosexuality") for violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act, as they claimed that their counseling services could "cure" individuals who were gay.  The trial (in June 2015) concluded with a jury determining that JONAH's claims were fraudulent and indefensible. JONAH, its founder (Arthur Goldberg, a disbarred attorney), and a counselor were ordered to compensate the plaintiffs for all fees paid for its services, as well as fees paid for mental health services necessitated by the distress caused by JONAH's actions.

To read the text of HR 2450, go to this link. To read a fact sheet prepared by the office of Rep. Ted Lieu, go to this link.