OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6695 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY.

SUMMARY

This bill prohibits health care providers, or anyone else conducting trade or commerce, from practicing or administering “conversion therapy” (i.e., any practice or treatment that seeks to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity). The bill specifies certain types of counseling that are not considered conversion therapy, such as counseling intended to assist a person undergoing gender transition or facilitate a person's identity exploration.

Under the bill, if a health care provider engages in such therapy, it is considered unprofessional conduct subject to disciplinary action. If anyone practices or administers conversion therapy while conducting trade or commerce, it is deemed an unfair or deceptive trade practice (see BACKGROUND).

Finally, the bill prohibits public funds from being spent for conversion therapy or related actions.

*House Amendment “A” specifies that anyone practicing or administering conversion therapy is prohibited from doing so while conducting trade or commerce.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

BAN ON CONVERSION THERAPY

Conversion Therapy Defined ( 1)

Under the bill, “conversion therapy” is any practice or treatment administered to someone under age 18 that seeks to change the person's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change gender expression or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward people of the same gender. The term does not include counseling intended to:

1. assist someone undergoing gender transition;

2. provide the person with acceptance, support, and understanding; or

3. facilitate the person's coping, social support, or identity exploration and development, including any therapeutic intervention that is neutral as to sexual orientation and seeks to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as such counseling does not seek to change the person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Health Care Providers ( 1 & 2)

The bill prohibits health care providers from engaging in conversion therapy. It considers such therapy unprofessional conduct and grounds for disciplinary action by the Department of Public Health or Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) as applicable, including suspension or revocation of the person's credential to practice.

The bill does not prevent a national certifying body from taking action against a health care provider following a complaint that the provider engaged in conversion therapy.

Under the bill, health care providers include physicians; chiropractors; podiatrists; naturopaths; optometrists; occupational therapists; alcohol and drug counselors; registered nurses; advanced practice registered nurses; nurse's aides; behavior analysts; psychologists; marriage and family therapists; clinical social workers; master clinical social workers; professional counselors; genetic counselors; pharmacists; and hypnotists. The term includes such individuals who are credentialed in Connecticut or those credentialed outside the state but who provide professional services in the state.

Public Funds ( 4)

The bill prohibits state or local public funds from being spent for:

1. practicing conversion therapy;

2. referring someone to a health care provider or anyone engaged in trade or commerce for conversion therapy;

3. health benefits coverage for conversion therapy; or

4. grants or contracts with any entity to conduct conversion therapy or refer anyone to a health care provider or person engaged in trade or commerce to provide such therapy.

BACKGROUND

Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA)

The law prohibits businesses from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices. CUTPA allows the DCP commissioner to issue regulations defining what constitutes an unfair trade practice, investigate complaints, issue cease and desist orders, order restitution in cases involving less than $10,000, enter into consent agreements, ask the attorney general to seek injunctive relief, and accept voluntary statements of compliance. It also allows individuals to sue. Courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorney's fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for willful violations and $25,000 for violation of a restraining order.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

26

Nay

0

(03/24/2017)