[JURIST] The California Senate [official website] voted 23-13 Wednesday to approve a bill [SB 1172] that would ban psychotherapies aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors. According to supporters, the underlying reason for the legislation is that homosexuality is not a disease and should not be treated as such. Moreover, therapies and efforts to reverse homosexuality were found to have detrimental effects on minors' physical and mental health, leading to suicides and substance abuse. Wednesday's approval was welcomed by Equality California (EQCA) [advocacy website], which has supported the bill. On the other hand, groups such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality [advocacy website] voiced their opposition, arguing that most of the facts relied on in the bill are generalizations and loose assertions. The bill was initially introduced in February by Sacramento's senator, Ted Lieu [official website] who stated [press release] that the "entire medical community is opposed to these phony therapies." The bill must still be approved by the State Assembly next month and signed by Governor Jerry Brown [official websites].
Homosexuality has been a highly debated issued in the recent past, especially with increasing numbers of states legalizing same-sex marriage. Up to date, nine jurisdictionsMaryland, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]have passed laws that strengthen the rights of homosexuals by legally acknowledging same-sex marriage. Other states, such as Illinois [JURIST report], have taken a different approach, extending civil union rights to same-sex couples.