Frankel: Conversion therapy ban a step forward

Urges legislature to pass PA Fairness Act

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 16 – Hailing Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order to ban conversion therapy in Pennsylvania as a step in the right direction, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, urged his fellow lawmakers to build upon the governor’s momentum by scheduling a vote on his comprehensive LGBTQ+ civil rights legislation “The Pa Fairness Act” for the General Assembly’s return to Harrisburg in September.

“Programs designed to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression give a veneer of expertise to a barbaric, deceptive practice that has been thoroughly debunked and proved to be dangerous,” said Frankel, who is a co-chair to the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “This order tells LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians that they are respected, valued and worthy of protection.”

Frankel, who also serves as Democratic House Health Committee Chairman, noted that every major medical and mental health organization in the United States condemned the use of conversion therapy.

Even as Frankel applauded this important advancement in making the commonwealth safer for LGBTQ+ children and adults, he expressed frustration that the GOP majority in the General Assembly continues to block crucial legislation that would more fully protect LGBTQ+ people.

“Our governor is appropriately using every lever he has to make Pennsylvanians feel safe and supported, but we can only go so far in the face of Republican obstructionism,” Frankel said. “Every tiny step forward is a reminder that Pennsylvania has left one of its most vulnerable populations unprotected by the law from discrimination and hate crimes.”

Frankel first introduced the Fairness Act (H.B. 300) two decades ago and he rewrote comprehensive anti-hate crimes legislation (H.B. 2755) in the aftermath of the Tree of Life attack.

The American Psychiatric Association opposes conversion therapy or any practice “that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or is based on the a priori assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation.”

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have banned the therapy. In Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, as well as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, Scranton, State College, Yardley, Bellefonte, Bethlehem, Erie, Scranton, Newtown, and Middletown Township have all banned conversion treatment.