“Conversion therapy” is not a thing.

That is, there is no legitimate therapy that converts gay people into straight people, or transgender people into non-transgender people. For most people with a religious affinity, there is prayer to remain celibate, or prayer to accept one’s orientation — and nothing more.

Some evangelicals claim that there is such a therapy, but all of their claims have been disproven, and all but a handful of their attempts have failed. Dozens have “changed” their orientation; tens of thousands have not, through no fault of their own.

Evangelicals continue to market and sell mental-health malpractice as if it were legitimate. Medical malpractice is illegal for good reason. And evangelicals’ efforts to weaken laws against malpractice and consumer fraud serve as compelling evidence that they know there is no religious or “Biblical” basis for their fraud — none whatsoever. Not one Bible verse says that sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed, and certainly not through the bizarre methods that are marketed by evangelical groups.

Medical malpractice is not protected by the “religious freedom” of a disreputable doctor or counselor, and it is sadly necessary for laws to be passed to stop religious organizations from attempting to circumvent laws against malpractice and consumer fraud.

If someone chooses to be celibate or to enter a sexless marriage, that is their personal and religious freedom. If they seek religious counsel to remain celibate, that is their freedom as well.

But if someone chooses to defraud families by offering abusive snake-oil remedies that cause greater harm, we now have laws in 15 states to stop such con artists from abusing the religious freedom and consumer rights of others.

Thank you, New York, for being the latest U.S. state to ban the fraud of “conversion therapy.”

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