Historic Complaint Filed Asking FTC to Declare ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy Consumer Fraud


Three Civil Rights Organizations Petition Federal Trade Commission to Take Action Against Conversion Therapy Industry

federal consumer fraud complaint has been filed against an "ex-gay" therapy organization by three national top civil rights groups. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced they have filed a complaint against People Can Change, calling it "an organization 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."

In a joint statement, the groups call conversion therapy "ineffective and dangerous" and "junk pseudoscience," and note it has been linked to serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.

The filing asks the Federal Trade Commission to effectively shut down People Can Change, by taking "enforcement action to stop PCC's deceptive advertising, marketing, and other business practices in all forms, including through its website, brochures, videos, social media, emails, or other advertisements or promotional materials."

Presumably, if successful, the legal precedent might be applicable to other so-called "conversion," "reparative," or "ex-gay" therapy groups. The groups state they are asking the FTC to "investigate all practitioners making similar claims."

The powerful 36-page complaint alleges conversion therapy "is based on the false premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender ('LGBT') is a mental illness or disorder caused by a developmental deficiency, trauma, and/or unmet emotional needs."

It emphatically states "there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting claims that PCC's methods can change an individual's sexual orientation; in contrast, there is substantial competent and reliable scientific evidence that conversion therapy, including the methods employed by PCC, is ineffective and can and often does result in significant health and safety risks to consumers of those services..."

Unlike laws enacted in several states, the complaint does not ask that only children be banned from the harmful "therapy," but argues the therapy itself is harmful and ineffective.

People Can Change not only says it seeks to "support and guide men who seek to transition away from unwanted homosexuality but it also advocates against same-sex marriage. On its Facebook page, the group has posted an anti-gay video titled, "The consequences of homosexual marriage."

And on its website, People Can Change has posted this video of men claiming to no longer feel attracted to men:



Image: Screenshot via People Can Change/YouTube

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