California legislature passes law to ban gay reparative therapy

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By Ryan Collett

California is on its way to becoming the first state to legally ban homosexual conversion therapy in children and teenagers. 

The bill was passed by the California General Assembly last week and describes a law that would prevent therapists from prescribing so-called reparative therapies to patients under the age of 18.

Reparative therapy—the practice of attempting to change a patient’s orientation from homosexual to heterosexual—have a long, and often gruesome history in the medical realm. Even though the American Psychiatric Association formally denounced both the science and ethics behind reparative therapy in May of 2000, private practices have still prescribed forms of the practice to their patients. 

The bill banning reparative therapy in California was passed last Thursday and will make its way to Governor Jerry Brown where he can choose to sign it into law or veto it before September 30th. 

Opponents of the bill included the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a nonprofit organization that practices reparative therapy. NARTH argued that there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to back the bill. 

The California legislature heard testimonies from former patients who had previously undergone reparative therapy at the recommendation of their psychologists. The end results in sexual orientation conversion were conclusively negative—often causing more harm in the patients than good. One man testified that three years of reparative therapy had driven him into deeper suicidal depression. 

In a statement released in May 2000, the American Psychiatric Association said:

“To date, there are no scientifically rigorous outcome studies to determine either the actual efficacy or harm of ‘reparative’ treatments.  There is sparse scientific data about selection criteria, risks versus benefits of the treatment, and long-term outcomes of ‘reparative’ therapies.” 

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