California passes law banning gay-to-straight therapy

Monday, October 1, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown.
Image: State of California.

California Governor Jerry Brown Saturday signed into law a bill banning licensed mental health providers treating teenagers and children from attempting "to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex".

In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, Governor Brown described the bill: "This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery".

LGBT rights campaigners have welcomed the announcement. Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, which petitioned Brown to pass the law, stated "LGBT youth will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being". Griffin also called for other states to implement similar laws.

Kay Kendell from the National Center for Lesbian Rights stated: "Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families. This law will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the dangerous and deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be 'cured.' "

The law is to take effect on January 1, 2013.