Federal appeals court blocks California sexual orientation therapy law

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] granted an injunction [text, PDF] on Friday to temporarily block enforcement of a California law banning mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with minors. The injunction will prevent the law, SB 1172 [text], which was slated to take effect on January 1, 2013, from being enforced until the constitutionality of the law can be determined by the appeals court. The plaintiffs claim that the law violates their right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment [text]. The plaintiffs were represented by the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel (LC) [advocacy website], who were quick to declare the injunction a victory claiming [press release] that the law is "politically motivated to interfere with counselors and clients." The court has indicated it will "fast-track" a review of the law which will allow for a speedier ruling on its constitutionality.

Earlier in the month a federal district court refused to block the law [JURIST report] claiming a challenge of the constitutionality was "not likely to prevail." A separate challenge to SB 1172 resulted in a temporary injunction [JURIST report] by a different judge in the same court earlier in the week. That challenge, brought by the Pacific Justice institute (PJI), resulted in a temporary injunction which would have allowed the plaintiffs in that case to continue SOCE after the law goes into effect. PJI filed its lawsuit challenging the bill just days after it was signed [JURIST reports] into law by California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] in October. SB 1172 was approved by the California State Assembly [JURIST report] in August and the California Senate [JURIST report] in May. Supporters of the bill, including groups such as Equality California [advocacy website] and the American Psychoanalytic Association [advocacy website] assert the reason for legislation is that homosexuality is not and should not be treated as a disease, and efforts to reverse homosexuality have proven to be detrimental to minors.

 

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