US/World

California Bans Controversial 'Gay Cures' for Minors

LGBT
According to a poll, 3.4 percent of Americans identify themselves as LGBT. Robert Galbraith/Reuters

California is now the first state to ban "gay cures" aimed at 'correcting' homosexuality in gay teenagers.

"This bill bans nonscientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide," Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement on Saturday after he signed the Senate Bill 1172 into law. "These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."

The law, which was passed in May by the California Senate and takes effect on Jan.1, states that no "mental health provider" shall provide minors under the age of 18 with therapy that is intended to change their sexual orientation, including efforts to "change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex."

Gay rights groups across the country praised Brown and welcomed the new bill, saying that the therapies have caused dangerous emotional harm to many LGBT teenagers.

"Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors' sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians," Clarissa Filgioun, board president of Equality California said in a statement.

"Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in a press release. "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 American Psychiatric Association says that the dangers of conversion therapy, or "reparative therapy," include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior like suicide and substance abuse. Experts say that in "reparative therapy," therapists' alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce the self-hatred already felt by individuals subjected to these types of treatments.

"The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation," the APA said in a report.

"It is inappropriate for anyone, including parents, to subject anybody to dehumanizing activity," assembly member John Perez, the first openly gay speaker of California's lower house, said during a debate last month, according to Daily Mail.

However opponents of the bill argue that regulation of the therapy was for the medical boards, and not politicians to decide, and they argue that the new law violates the rights of parents to make choices for their children.

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