A bill currently being amended in the California State Senate would make it harder for doctors who practice conversion therapy to service homosexual clients. If passed, it would be the first bill in the United States to regulate the practice.
Senate Bill 1127, which was introduced by State Senator Ted Lieu in February, would ban conversion therapy for anyone under the age of 18 and require adults to sign an informed consent form before entering treatment.
"Under no circumstances shall a patient under 18 years of age undergo sexual orientation change efforts, regardless of the willingness of a patient's parent, guardian, conservator, or other person to authorize such efforts," reads the bill in part, which was last amended on Monday.
David Pruden, vice president of Operations for the North American Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), told The Christian Post that the proposed legislation is "wrong-headed" and a "basic attack on all religion."
"We need to try and eliminate counseling for those who freely seek assistance for their unwanted homosexual desires because it makes some folks who may have decided to become committed gays feel depressed and sad," said Pruden, explaining what he believed was the reasoning behind the bill.
"How long will it be before adoption counseling or advocating against abortion is a hate crime because it makes some people feel sad or depressed?"
Senator Lieu, who introduced SB 1127, argued that conversion therapy is "junk science" that harms individuals rather than helps them.
"Being lesbian or gay is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder," said Lieu in a statement.
"These bogus efforts have led in some cases to patients later committing suicide, as well as severe mental and physical anguish."
While Lieu argues for SB 1127 by noting that every American psychology group believes that "homosexuality is not a medical condition," Pruden of NARTH told CP that this is "political rhetoric."
"There are no statements from professional mental health organizations saying helping individuals with unwanted homosexual attractions is hateful," said Pruden.
"They simply say that in spite of the thousands of examples of individuals who have overcome their homosexual behaviors and significantly diminished their homosexual attractions that there is insufficient research evidence to prove that therapy can help individuals change their sexual orientation."
Dr. Jo Linder-Crow, executive director for the California Psychological Association, which is the state chapter of the APA, told CP that her organization has been working alongside Lieu to amend portions of the bill.
"We are currently in the process of reviewing the latest draft of the bill, and we have provided feedback to the author of the bill during the bill's progress," said Linder-Crow.
"We will continue to review the bill's content, in its entirety, before developing a final position on the legislation."
SB 1127 is currently in the California Senate Judiciary Committee and does not presently have a scheduled hearing, though Lieu's office believes this will happen next Tuesday.