Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation prohibiting a form of therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation from gay to straight, the first law of its kind in the nation, officials said Sunday.
Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) introduced the measure based on his belief that so-called conversion therapy isn't based on science and is dangerous.
“This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,'' Brown said in a statement. ``These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."
Lieu commended the governor and hoped other states would follow California's lead.
“No one should stand idly by while children are being psychological abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable,” Lieu said.
The measure was supported by groups including the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Kate Kendell, the group’s executive director, said the bill was needed so "state-licensed therapists cannot subject young people to practices that have been universally condemned by mainstream medical experts and that cause terrible harm."
The bill, SB 1172, was opposed by Republican lawmakers as an intrusion by the state into the decision of parents about how to raise their children. The conservative Pacific Justice Institute has said it will file a lawsuit alleging the measure violates constitutional protections, including the free speech rights of therapists and the right of patients to get access to information.
"The privacy concerns are fairly significant," said Matthew B. McReynolds, a staff attorney for the institute. "In our view, it's an intrusion beyond what the government has done before."
Brown's action was also criticized by Christopher Rosik, president of the Assn. for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). "NARTH is saddened but not surprised by this unprecedented legislative intrusion," Rosik said. "Citizens and especially parents should know the indifference that supporters of this bill have toward their freedom of choice."