California became the first state in the nation to end disputed therapies aimed at changing a minor's sexual orientation when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172 into law on Saturday.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Ted W. Lieu, who represents District 28, which includes many South Bay and Westside communities.
“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. “Governor Brown should be commended for protecting LGBT youth by ending this type of quackery.”
The news was the subject of a front page story by the New York Times Sunday, which said that over the last few decades, some psychologists have practiced a theory of “reparative therapy,” which ties homosexuality to emotional wounds in early childhood or to early sexual abuse. Reparative therapists offer a "cure" for homosexuality using practices that have been increasingly criticized by the gay community and many mental health organizations.
“This bill bans nonscientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Brown said in a statement on Saturday, according to the Times. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
Effective Jan. 1, the law will prohibit children under 18 from undergoing sexual orientation-change efforts, according to a press release issued by Lieu.
According to the Times, the bill has been opposed by reparative therapists, who united in 1992 to form the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, which is based in Encino. The group posted a statement on its website on Aug. 15 that said Lieu's claims "represent rhetoric, not research."
Lieu's press release said the law was based on the following:
- An individual’s sexual orientation, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.
- Sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health threats to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, hopelessness, shame, suicide, self-hatred, decreased self-esteem and a host of anger, dysfunction and dehumanized feelings.
- There is insufficient evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person’s sexual orientation. Instead, abusive attempts to change sexual orientation in some cases have caused serious and lasting harm.
- Dr. Robert Spitzer, who earlier submitted a flawed study purporting to show reparative therapy may work, renounced his study this year and apologized to the LGBT community.
“If anyone had any doubts such practices were evil, they need only listen to accounts of victims who went through this abusive practice,” Lieu said in a statement. “Some victims, such as Kirk Murphy, committed suicide. This law is partly in remembrance of Kirk.”
Lieu represents District 28, which includes the Southern California communities of Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Marina del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista, Brentwood, Westwood and Century City. As a result of redistricting, Liu will soon also represent District 26, which will also include the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica.