On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown finally signed legislation that officially ends the dangerous practice of so-called “reparative” psychotherapy for gay youth. Beginning January 1, 2013, medical practitioners are prohibited from pursing efforts to change the sexual orientation of persons under the age of 18. In a statement, the governor said the therapies “have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
“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,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president.
Several mental health associations in California supported the legislation including the state’s Board of Behavioral Sciences, the California Psychological Association, and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Meanwhile, the intellectual giants at the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality (which sounds like an important research institution, but isn’t) slammed the bill as a case of “legislative overreach” that restricts parents’ decisions. The bill’s author, Senator Ted Lieu, argued that the government has the right to intervene in matters affecting the welfare of a child, as it does with cigarettes and alcohol consumption regardless of parental consent.
Despite the consensus reached by every leading medical and psychological association in the country—that ‘conversion’ therapy does great harm while failing to change sexual orientation—NARTH maintains that the influential findings were based on politics rather than research.
Calling on other states to follow California’s lead, Lieu said, “No one should stand idly by while children are being psychologically abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable.”