SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California state legislature on Thursday passed the nation’s first law banning psychological therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youth straight — often referred to as reparative therapy — sending the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval.
The bill, approved in the state Senate by a vote of 22-12 along party lines, would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts of any kind for a minor patient, regardless of a parent’s willingness or desire to authorize participation in such programs.
The landmark legislation was approved in the state Assembly on Tuesday by a vote of 52 to 21 — the bill originated in the Senate and was first approved in the chamber on May 30. The Senate’s approval on Thursday was to approve ammendments made by the Assembly.
State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said he proposed the measure based on concern by medical groups involving psychologists and psychiatrists that the therapy is not based on sound scientific principles.
“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” Lieu said. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”
“The entire house of medicine has rejected this phony and sham therapy. It really is junk science,” Lieu told fellow Senators. “The American Psychiatric Association says it poses great risk to individuals including feelings of guilt, self-hatred, shame. Some people commit suicide having gone through this.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mental Health America of Northern California, Gaylesta, and Lambda Legal.
Its opponents include the California Catholic Conference, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, and the National Assn. for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
The Governor has not indicated whether he’ll sign the bill.