The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Monday granted [order, PDF] a motion [text, PDF] to put on hold a ruling upholding a California law that bans licensed therapists from working to change the sexual orientation of a minor. The order contained no reasoning, stating only that a 90-day hold would be put into affect to allow a petition for a writ of certiorari to the US Supreme Court, and will be continued if the writ is granted. The law was challenged on First Amendment grounds, alleging that since the procedures being banned were "talk therapy," the law infringed on free speech rights. In its initial ruling [text, PDF] upholding the law the court rejected that argument, stating that it regulates conduct, not speech. Supporters of the law and several psychological associations claim [LAT report] that the law is a necessary measure to protect LGBT minors, since attempts to change sexuality are often futile and can be potentially psychologically harmful.
California was the first state to ban [JURIST op-ed] sexual-orientation "conversion therapy" for minors. Critics of the therapy [JURIST op-ed] argue that it is not only ineffective, but can be severely damaging, leading to depression and even suicide in some cases. The current stay on the ruling to allow petition to the Supreme Court comes just six days after the Ninth Circuit refused [JURIST report] to re-hear the case. The court upheld [JURIST report] the law in a decision in August. The bill was signed [JURIST report] into law in October 2012 with the support of several psychological associations, advocacy and human rights groups.