Ninth Circuit Court Upholds Calif. Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors; Appeal Expected

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld California's first-in-the-nation ban on sexual orientation change therapy for minors.

A three judge panel for the appellate court ruled Thursday that SB 1172, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, was not a violation of professional rights.  "California has authority to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies that the legislature has deemed harmful," ruled the panel unanimously.

"Fundamental rights of parents do not include the right to choose a specific type of provider for a specific medical or mental health treatment that the state has reasonably deemed harmful."

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Introduced by Calif. State Senator Ted Lieu, Senate Bill 1172 called for stricter regulation of reparative therapy, also known as conversion therapy. This included banning the practice for Californian minors.  Roy Sotero, a spokesman for Sen. Lieu, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that the bill was meant to protect LGBT youth from the harmful practice of conversion therapy.

"Many leading medical and mental health associations believe that homosexuality and homosexual desires are not a mental disorder, and therefore there is no need for a 'cure.' All medical evidence has shown that you cannot change a person's sexual orientation," said Sotero.

The bill passed the California State Senate in June 2012 with a vote of 23 to 13 and the Calif. General Assembly in August 2012 with a vote of 51 to 22.

Last fall, Gov. Brown signed SB 1172 into law and almost immediately after he did so the Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit.  Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, expressed in a statement approval for the Ninth Circuit decision.  "This decision clears the way for this life-saving law to protect California youth from cruel and damaging practices that have been rejected by all leading medical and mental health professional organizations," said Minter.

"The court of appeals ruled in very clear terms that state-licensed therapists do not have a constitutional right to engage in discredited practices that offer no health benefits and put LGBT youth at risk of severe harm, including depression and suicide."

The Liberty Counsel, which brought the lawsuit against SB 1172, has stated that they will appeal the three-judge panel's decision.  "The minors that Liberty Counsel represents do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior," said the LC.

"They are greatly benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much improved."

At present, the Liberty Counsel is also overseeing a lawsuit against a similar law recently passed in New Jersey.

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