Banning Gay Teen Conversion Therapy
A California lawmaker says he’s optimistic about the prospects of a bill that would make it illegal for therapists in the state to try to “convert” gay youths.
Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, says so-called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy wrongfully treats homosexuality as a disease and can be dangerous to minors. If his bill becomes law, California would become the first state to ban therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian teens straight.
“Some therapists are taking advantage of vulnerable people by pushing dangerous sexual orientation-change efforts,” Lieu said before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the bill on Tuesday. “These non-scientific efforts have led in some cases to patients later committing suicide, as well as severe mental and physical anguish.”
SB 1172 now goes to the full Senate. No date for a vote has been set, but it will likely be in the next month, according to Lieu. If it passes there, it would face action in the Assembly.
“For decades, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people — particularly youth — have suffered psychological abuse by those who are entrusted to care for their emotional and psychological well-being,” Clarissa Filgioun, board president of Equality California, an advocacy organization that sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “It's long past time to do everything in our power to put an end to the use of therapy tactics that have no sound scientific basis and that cause lifelong damage.”
The bill would ban children under 18 from undergoing so-called “sexual orientation change efforts,” often referred to by the acronym SOCE. It would also require adults seeking such treatment to sign informed-consent forms indicating that they understand potential dangers of reparative therapy that the bill lays out, including depression and suicide, and that it has no medical basis.
“I feel confident that the bill will pass,” said Lieu. “The facts are on our side.”