After a request granted Monday, California cannot ban gay conversion therapy in the state — for now, at least. Challengers of the ban, who believe that therapies that seek to change minors’ sexual orientation are protected under the free speech clause of the First Amendment, will await word from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether it will review the constitutionality of the law. In the meantime, the state’s ban on the therapy is on hold.
Last week, California’s law prohibiting therapists from engaging in gay conversion therapy was upheld by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, The Los Angeles Times reported. According to the San Francisco Gate, the law in question would ban licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of patients under the age of 18. The court found that banning the therapy was not an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Rather, it was a regulation of medical conduct. One Judge, Susan Graber, said that the law was in place to protect the well-being of the children whose parents and therapists may request conversion therapy against their own wishes. She also pointed out that the law does not ban therapists from discussing the pros and cons of the therapy with their patients.
Proponents of the law say that banning the therapy prevents minors from undergoing a process that medical professionals describe as both dangerous and ineffective. But some therapists and families still see the therapy as a viable method of dealing with “unnatural and unwanted same-sex attractions.”
Gay conversion therapy, or “reparative therapy,” is a practice that attempts to “convert” people who are sexually attracted to the same sex into heterosexuals. The San Francisco Gate reports that some conversion therapy methods include hypnosis, hormone treatment, and encouraging opposite-sex behavior. A 2007 report from the American Psychological Association found that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through [sexual orientation change efforts.”
Though the ban has been upheld by a federal court, this temporary hold on the ban may be seen as at least a small victory for gay conversion therapy supporters. In any case, Mathew Staver, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that he will continue to fight for his clients. “We will continue fighting to protect these young people from homosexual activists and tyrannical politicians for as long as it takes,” Staver said in a statement, according to the San Francisco Gate.