A federal court today ruled that a California law banning so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy — also known as “pray away the gay” — can go into effect as scheduled, on January 1, 2013, despite efforts by anti-gay organizations that challenged its legality, claiming it violates their civil rights. Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled in opposition to U.S. District Judge William Shubb’s decision that had temporarily blocked the ban.
The law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October, protects “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from psychological abuse at the hands of state-licensed therapists who use dangerous practices to try to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression,” a joint statement from the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality California noted.
The Court’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality that challenges the new law protecting LGBT youth from practices—including the use of shame and aversion therapy—that are known to lead to depression and suicide attempts. The group is represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT legal group. In rejecting the groups’ request to temporarily prevent the statute from going into effect on January 1, Judge Mueller concluded that the California law “prohibits a therapeutic practice deemed unproven and potentially harmful to minors by ten professional associations of mental health experts.”
The “National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality” referred to is also known as NARTH, and, as regular readers known is famous for one of its now-former board members, George Allen Rekers, who infamously in 2010 took a male prostitute to Europe with him.
“This law will put a stop to one of the most dangerous and discredited forms of discrimination against LGBT youth,” said Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor in their statement. “We are extremely pleased that the court’s decision will allow the law to go into effect on January 1, 2013 as planned, and young people in this state will no longer have to fear that they can be subjected to these dangerous practices by licensed therapists. Every day that licensed therapists are permitted to engage in these dangerous and discredited practices is another day that our youth are placed at risk of depression, substance abuse, and attempted suicide. The state has a duty to protect minors from conduct by licensed health care professionals that is both harmful and offers no benefit to health. We commend Senator Ted Lieu, the bill’s author, the California Legislature, and Governor Brown for taking decisive action to protect California’s young people and their families.”
“Today’s decision acknowledges that the anti-LGBT groups who have filed this case have no viable legal grounds for their attempt to block these desperately-needed protections for California youth,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq. “Every leading mental health organization has concluded that these practices, which claim to be able to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender expression, have no basis in science and expose young people to a serious risk of physical and emotional harm. We are confident the courts will continue to uphold this life-saving law, which simply requires licensed mental health practitioners to follow professional standards and to refrain from using practices that have no basis in science or medicine.”
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