Big, big news out of California. After weeks of waiting, Governor Jerry Brown signed a historic bill late last night which bans "ex-gay" conversion therapy for minors.
Effective January 1, 2013, mental health professionals will no longer be allowed to attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity/expression of individuals under the age of 18. This is the first such law in the nation and is a monumental step forward. Every legitimate medical professional organization recognizes the extreme harm this kind of therapy can cause for LGBT children. Well, now the state of California is putting its foot down on this torture. Take that, NARTH.
The bill, SB1172 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), bars mental health practitioners from performing so-called reparative therapy, which professional psychological organizations have said may cause harm. Gay rights groups have labeled them dangerous and abusive. "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," Brown said in a statement to The Chronicle.Brown approved the ban after the public release of two other lists of bills signed and vetoed earlier Saturday. Lieu's bill is expected to appear on a new list to be released Sunday.Pretty big fucking deal.
Mental health professionals who violate the law, which applies to therapy for patients younger than 18, will be subject to discipline by whatever group licenses them.
Here are some reactions from pro-LGBT organizations, compiled by JoeMyGod:
National Center for Lesbian Rights: "Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families. 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.'"
Equality California: "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. We thank Senator Ted Lieu and Governor Brown for their efforts in making California a leader in banning this deceptive and harmful practice."
Truth Wins Out: "This is a historic day that protects LGBT youth from child abuse disguised as genuine therapy. We thank Gov. Brown for signing legislation that can serve as a model for similar bills across the nation.”
Human Rights Campaign: "We're grateful to Governor Brown for standing with California's children. LGBT 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. We commend Governor Brown for putting children first, and call on all states to take California’s lead on this issue. We will continue our fight against this kind of child abuse, which has been deemed harmful to children by all major mental health, medical, and child welfare organizations."Way to go, California. However, as much as "ex-gay" therapy has been discredited, we still have a long way to go. But this is a great start.