No More Counseling for Minors Aimed at Changing Them From Homosexual to Heterosexual
California is the first state in the nation to ban minors from receiving what’s known as conversion or reparative therapy, which is aimed at converting homosexuals to heterosexuals.
The bill — SB 1172 by Sen. Ted Lieu, a Torrance Democrat — received plenty of media attention after President Obama’s statement in May that same-sex couples should be able to marry.
“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 after the Democratic governor signed the measure. “Governor Brown should be commended for … ending this type of quackery.”
Opponents countered that Lieu was restricting the ability of parents to decide what counseling is best for their child.
“This now limits counselors on how they are legally allowed to counsel minors struggling with sexuality. Sen. Lieu doesn’t hide that he is attempting to take away a parent’s rights,” said Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, an opponent of the measure.
Also called “sexual orientation conversion,” this practice uses counseling and behavior modification that its proponents say allows persons to “cure” their unwanted homosexuality or bisexuality.
One man who testified in favor of the bill said he was encouraged to play more sports, focus more on female anatomy and other “heterosexual” activities in order to tamp down or eliminate his homosexual feelings.
The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have both opined against the practice.
The 2009 Psychological Association task force report on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation found most of the recipients of the therapy were men “who consider religion to be an extremely important part of their lives and participate in traditional or conservative faiths (e.g., the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, evangelical Christianity and Orthodox Judaism).”
Exodus International, the world’s largest Christian referral network for reparative therapy, reports 260 “ministries, churches and counselors” nationwide. The organization lists 35 affiliates in California including 24 local churches “who embrace individuals affected by homosexuality while holding to Biblical sexual standards.”
Lieu and supporters of his bill say homosexuality is not a disease but biologic, genetic and immutable. His legislation says the risks of the therapy include “depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior and suicide.”
Adults could still undergo reparative therapy, but would have to sign a waiver after reading testimonials from the groups mentioned above and others saying there’s no proof such treatment is effective.
Opponents, besides the Capitol Resource Institute, include the National Association of Research and Therapy for Homosexuality.
They say the legislation demonizes an entire therapeutic community that has had thousands of successes.
Sponsored by Equality California, the new law takes effect January 1, 2013.
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