Ninth Circuit refuses to rehear sexual orientation conversion therapy case

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday denied [order, PDF] petitions for panel and en banc rehearing of its decision upholding California's law [text, PDF] prohibiting licensed therapists from utilizing sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), also known as conversion therapy. The plaintiffs in the case, which include a group of SOCE practitioners, filed [petition, PDF] for panel and en banc rehearing in September after the Ninth Circuit upheld [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] the law in August. The plaintiffs challenged the law on as an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of SOCE practitioners and potential patients. However, the Ninth Circuit determined that the law regulates professional conduct rather than speech.

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed [JURIST report] the bill in October, making California the first state to pass a law banning gay conversion therapy. The bill was supported by the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences [advocacy websites]. The Law was approved by the California State Assembly [JURIST report] at the end of last August and by the California Senate [JURIST report] in May 2012. Advocates of the bill argue that therapies that attempt to reverse homosexuality have detrimental effects on mental health and contribute to suicide and substance abuse. Alternatively, groups such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality [advocacy website] voiced their opposition to the bill, arguing that it relies on generalizations and loose assertions. According to some experts, California's efforts have highlighted the need for better gender identity standards [JURIST op-ed].

 

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