Conservative Groups Challenge Gay Therapy 'Quackery' Ban

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Over the weekend, Gov. Gerry Brown signed SB 1172, a bill prohibiting mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with patients under 18 years of age. The soon-to-be-banned "conversion" or "reparative" therapies include a wide variety of techniques, (like counseling, shock therapy, and exorcism), used in an attempt to "cure" individuals of their homosexual and transgender leanings.

Gov. Brown explained, "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."

It's a historic measure, making California the first state to prohibit gay-cure reparative therapies directed at minors, the Huffington Post reports. But what is a historic measure without a corresponding historic lawsuit?

Monday, attorneys for two religiously-oriented therapists and a therapy student -- who claims to have successfully completed reparative therapy -- filed a lawsuit arguing that SB 1172 would intrude on free speech, privacy and freedom of religion, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The parties, represented by the Pacific Justice Institute, say that the law will prevent therapists from using their professional judgment to determine the proper course of treatment for their patients.

The plaintiffs further questioned the implications of enforcing the new measure, suggesting that it would entail "the equivalent of government agents listening in on highly sensitive private counseling" to determine whether the advice was "consistent with state orthodoxy," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

As is often the case with California's legislation, the rest of the country is bound to follow this case closely, (especially since Rep. Michele Bachmann's husband's clinic has been accused of practicing conversion therapy).

The bill is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013.

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