FFRF urges Congress to consider RFRA in drafting LGBT conversion therapy ban

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a warning for the Congressional co-sponsors of HR 2450, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would ban therapy attempting to “convert” LGBT people: beware RFRA.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act could provide a loophole for practitioners of such “treatments,” says FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover in a letter sent to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ted Lieu, and his 37 Democratic co-sponsors.

“As currently drafted, HR 2450 is subject to the federal RFRA, which allows religious people and corporations to violate generally applicable laws by claiming that the laws conflict with their religious beliefs,” explained Grover.

FFRF notes that there have been recent challenges to conversion therapy bans based on the practitioners’ religious beliefs. Because the states where the challenges were brought did not have state RFRA laws, the bans were upheld, but if a RFRA law had been in place, “it likely would have dictated the opposite outcome,” says FFRF.

The religious have been increasingly using RFRA and the equivalent laws in some states to challenge generally applicable regulations. Most prominently, the Supreme Court ruled that under RFRA, Hobby Lobby did not have to provide its employees with the insurance coverage for contraception required by the Affordable Care Act because of the corporation’s religious beliefs. FFRF contends it is now clear that “RFRA is not being used as a shield to protect the religious from persecution. It is being used as a sword to allow religious people and corporations to impose their personal religious beliefs onto others.”

FFRF urges the bill’s sponsors to exempt the bill from RFRA, and thanks the legislators for their support of this crucial legislation.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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