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California First to Ban Controversial ‘Gay Cure’ Therapy for Young People

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last month the first statewide ban on therapies that claim to “cure” homosexual teens.

The new legislation, which was supported by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Psychological Association, prevents young people under the age of 18 from undergoing “conversion” or “reparative” therapies that are intended to alter their sexual orientation.

In a Twitter message, Gov. Brown said that he backed the bill because it “bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide.’” In a later message, he said that the practices “have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

Sponsored by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), SB 1172 prohibits mental health providers from practicing sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) on juveniles. According to the bill language, SOCE therapies involving young people shall now be considered “unprofessional conduct,” and mental health professionals providing such services may be subject to disciplinary actions from state licensing entities.

Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association have denounced such “conversion” therapies, with the APA urging “all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientation,” in a 1997 council resolution.

The statewide ban, which was passed by the California state Senate in May, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. 

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