California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Saturday signed into law [press release] a bill [SB 1172; Senate backgrounder, PDF] that bans therapy intended to change the sexual orientation of minors. California is the first state to pass a law banning this type of therapy. The bill was supported by the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, California Division, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences [advocacy websites], and the signing was welcomed by groups such as the Human Rights Campaign [advocacy website]. According to the text of the law:
The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction.The law will take effect [San Francisco Chronicle report] on January 1. Violators face disciplinary action from their licensing authority.
SB 1172 was approved by the California State Assembly at the end of August and by the California Senate [JURIST reports] in May. Supporters of the bill asserted that the underlying reason for the legislation is that homosexuality is not a disease and should not be treated as such. Furthermore, therapies and efforts to reverse homosexuality were found to have detrimental effects on minors' physical and mental health, leading to suicides and substance abuse. Conversely, 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. According to some experts, California's efforts to pass the ban on sexual orientation therapy have highlighted a need for better gender identity standards [JURIST op-ed].