California sexual orientation therapy ban challenged

[JURIST] The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) [advocacy website] announced [press release] Monday that it has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging a California law that bans sexual orientation therapy for minors. California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Saturday signed [JURIST report] the bill [SB 1172; Senate backgrounder, PDF] into law on Saturday, banning therapy intended to change the sexual orientation of minors. According to PJI attorneys, the law is an unconstitutional restriction on the First Amendment, privacy and parental rights. According to the complaint:

The prohibitions of SB 1172 unlawfully create a new category of banned speech, namely "sexual orientation change efforts" directed at minors. This includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth. This new category of banned speech bears no relation to the few categories of speech that have been recognized by the courts as unprotected speech. Moreover, the prohibitions of SB 1172 are invalidly rooted in content and viewpoint distinctions.
PJI is also seeking an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect on January 1. A separate lawsuit is planned by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) [advocacy website].

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 NARTH 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].

 

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