White House supports banning sexual orientation conversion therapy
White House supports banning sexual orientation conversion therapy

[JURIST] The Obama administration on Wednesday voice support [press release] for banning sexual orientation conversion therapy on minors in response to an online petition [text] with more than 120,000 signatures. Conversion therapy is practiced by medical health providers with the goal of changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice has been used on minors, who opponents argue do not have the ability to make their own medical and mental health decisions. The White House stated that the practice “is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.” The American Psychiatric Association (APA) [official website] opposes conversion therapy, stating in 1998 that “such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes.” The APA declassified homosexuality from a mental disorder more than 40 years ago. The petition began in January on the White House website days after transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn committed suicide. Leelah had been taken by her parents to conversion therapy sessions before her suicide. California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have banned the practice, while 18 other states have introduced legislation banning conversion therapy. Oregon and Iowa lawmakers [JURIST report] have approved similar legislation. A federal ban would require congressional action.

In September the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a ban [JURIST report] on sexual orientation conversion therapy in New Jersey. The lawsuit was filed by two licensed therapists, among others, who practice “sexual orientation change efforts.” In 2013 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 signed the bill [JURIST report] in 2012, making California the first state to pass a law banning this type of therapy.