California lawmakers approve ban on sexual orientation therapy for minors

[JURIST] The California State Assembly voted 51-21 on Tuesday to ban reparative therapy intended to change sexual orientation in minors. The bill [SB 1172, PDF], authored by state Senator Ted Lieu, seeks to provide protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth from allegedly deceptive, harmful therapies, while also making adults aware of potential harms associated with such reparative therapies. The bill is supported by the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, California Division, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences [advocacy websites]. It states two goals:

  1. [To establish] that any mental-health treatment seeking to eliminate emotional and sexual feelings or desires for people of the same sex must first obtain informed consent from the patient prior to initiating such sexual orientation change therapy.
  2. [To clarify] that minors are not able to provide informed consent for sexual orientation change therapy, regardless of the desire of the minor's parents for such therapy.
The bill is the first of its kind in the US.

Earlier in the year, the California Senate voted 23-13 to approve [JURIST report] a bill [SB 1172] that would ban psychotherapies aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors. Supporters of the bill asserted that the underlying reason for the legislation is that homosexuality is not a disease and should not be treated as such. Furthermore, therapies and efforts to reverse homosexuality were found to have detrimental effects on minors' physical and mental health, leading to suicides and substance abuse. Conversely, groups such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality [advocacy website] voiced their opposition, arguing that most of the facts relied on in the bill are generalizations and loose assertions. The number of states legalizing same-sex marriage has been on the rise in the recent past. Currently, nine jurisdictions—Maryland, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]—have passed laws that legally acknowledge same-sex marriage. Other states, such as Illinois [JURIST report], have taken a different approach, extending civil union rights to same-sex couples.

 

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