On Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed Senate Bill 1172, which officially bans so-called “ex-gay” therapy for minors.
Sponsored by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), the measure will bar mental-health providers from providing treatment that seeks to change gender expression, or eliminate sexual or romantic same-sex attractions in persons under 18. If a therapist violates the law, which goes into effect January 1, 2013, they will face disciplinary action from whatever organization licenses them.
“This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
Reparative therapy—an umbrella term for various methods that often incorporate prayer or designate a childhood incident as a “root” for homosexuality—have been soundly condemned by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association and almost every other professional therapeutic group in America. (Adults can still seek such treatment, but do so with informed consent, not as the helpless victims of their parents or guardians)
“Governor Brown has 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.
It’s a great day for Californians, but the damaging practice of “praying away the gay” is still legal in 49 other states and across the globe: “This isn’t just a problem in California or even only the United States,” says Andre Banks of International LGBT rights group AllOut.org. “American religious extremists are bringing these dangerous practices to more than 30 countries all over the world, despite their overwhelming rejection by the medical community.”