California Bans "Ex-Gay" Therapy For Youth

The legislation, signed overnight by California Gov. Jerry Brown, is the first of its kind in the country.

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles on August 28, 2012. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Saturday making his state the first in the nation to ban mental health providers from attempting “sexual orientation change efforts” with children and teenagers, The San Francisco Chronicle reported overnight.

The governor had been lobbied heavily on the effort to ban so-called “reparative” therapy, also known as “ex-gay” treatment, from in-state groups and national D.C.-based groups like the Human Rights Campaign. Brown, though, had been quiet about what action he planned to take on the legislation. He had until the end of tonight to decide whether to sign or veto the legislation or to let it go into effect without his signature.

At the end of the day on Saturday in California, however, he provided the Chronicle with a statement:

“This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

From the summary of the legislation, which was authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu:

This bill would prohibit a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.

California-based National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendell praised the action overnight.

“Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families,” she said in a statement. “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.’”

HRC, for its part, announced on Sept. 27 that about 50,000 people had signed a petition from the group urging Brown to sign the bill.

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