Therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors who say they are gay has been outlawed in California, the first state to adopt such legislation. California Gov. Jerry Brown announced he had signed the bill on Sunday. The bill’s sponsor, Calif. State Sen. Ted Lieu, said the so-called “conversion therapy,” “sexual orientation therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts” — amounts to ”psychological child abuse.”
“No one should stand idly by while children are being psychological abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable,” Lieu said in a statement released Sunday.
Supporters of the bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, included gay rights group as well as health organizations such as California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences and California Psychological Association. Critics have argued the therapy can cause emotional damage to patients.
But opponents of the Lieu bill had denounced it as infringing on parents’ rights. “Your bill will turn California into a nanny state by usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child’s right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested. This smacks of fascism and ex-gay bashing,” the California-based group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays wrote in an open letter to Lieu in August.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin weighed in on this landmark law:
“LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) 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.”