PA 17-5—sHB 6695

Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

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

Under the act, 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 act prohibits the use of public funds for conversion therapy or related actions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

CONVERSION THERAPY

Conversion Therapy Defined ( 1)

Under the act, “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 towards people of the same gender. The term excludes 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 act prohibits health care providers from engaging in conversion therapy. It deems the practice of such therapy unprofessional conduct and subject to disciplinary action by the Department of Public Health or Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) as applicable, including suspension or revocation of the provider's license, certification, or registration to practice.

Under the act, health care providers are 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 credentialed in Connecticut and those credentialed outside the state but who provide professional services in Connecticut.

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

Ban on Use of Public Funds ( 4)

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

1. practicing conversion therapy;

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