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California Prohibits Gay Conversion Therapy

by Redaktie in History & Politics , 17 November 2012

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

As of the first of January 2013, it will be prohibited by law to offer therapy to minors that are meant to cure homosexuality. By signing this law, Governor Jerry Brown has ratified the ban on this form of therapy. According to Governor Brown, this kind of therapy is ‘quackery’ and will lead to depression and suicide among young people.

Psychotherapists who violate this law may face disciplinary action from the organisation that has issued their license. Originally, the bill included the possibility to impose a civil penalty, but this was dropped after protests from health service organisations. The law does not prohibit therapists to offer gay conversion therapy to adults, nor does it affect the activities of the so-called, and often orthodox-Christian, ex-gay organizations.

The bill was supported by Equality California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California. The signing of this bill marked a major victory for the American LGBT movement.

“Governor Brown confirmed something that health organisations have already made clear: Attempts to change the sexual orientation of minors are not therapy, but relicts of prejudice and abuse, with harmful consequences for LGTB youth,” chairperson Clarissa Filigoun of Equality California states. ‘We thank Senator Ted Lieu and Governor Jerry Brown for their efforts, which have made California a pioneer in the prohibition of these misleading practices.”

Extensive studies by the American Psychological Association (APA) have conclusively demonstrated that therapies that are meant to ‘cure’ homosexuality – conversion and reparative therapy – have no effect whatsoever. It is pseudoscience – homosexuality is not a mental illness – and the therapies can form a serious threat to the mental health of young people that have to undergo them.

The founders of this kind of ‘gay conversion therapy,’ such as the Dutch Gerard van de Aardweg and the Americans George Rekers, Richard Fitzgibbons, and Joseph Nicolosi – are, or were connected to the American NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality). Their views on the ‘origin’ and the possibility to ‘cure’ homosexuality still exert great influence on Christian organizations who offer pastoral care, and educate believers who are ‘struggling with sexual brokenness,’ such as Stichting Different in The Netherlands. NARTH continues to resist the findings of APA and claims that the new law violates parents’ rights to make their own choice when it comes to their children. NARTH therefore has already announced to begin a legal battle against the new law.

The Californian senator Ted Lieu – the driving force behind the bill – points out that the American psychiatrists Robert Spitzer, whose research was seen as important 'proof' that reparative or conversion therapy does work, has distanced himself from his findings and apologized for them to the American LGBT community.

The bill comes into force on January 1, 2013. California is the first American state to adopt such a law, but already several other states have indicated that they want to follow suit.


In our youngest issue, Gay News 344, April/ May/ June/ July 2020



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