[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] on Thursday upheld [opinion, PDF] a ban on gay conversion therapy in New Jersey. The lawsuit was filed by two licensed therapists, among others, who practice “sexual orientation change efforts.” In November a federal judge in Trenton dismissed the lawsuit [Bloomberg report], rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that the law violates their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. In July another federal judge dismissed a challenge to the bill. That suit was filed last year by a couple and their teenage son who also claimed the law violated their constitutional rights. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the law last year banning the use of gay conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18.
Last year the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld California’s law [JURIST report] prohibiting licensed therapists from counseling minors with the intent to convert their sexual orientation from gay to straight. California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed the bill [JURIST report] in 2012, making California the first state to pass a law banning this type of therapy. The bill was supported by the National Association of Social Workers, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, California Division, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences [advocacy websites]. SB 1172 was approved by the California State Assembly at the end of August 2012 and by the California Senate [JURIST reports] in May 2012. Supporters of the bill asserted that the underlying reason for the legislation is that homosexuality is not a disease and that therapies 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 (NARTH) [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].