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California bans gay 'conversion' therapy

01 October 2012, 08:03

Sacramento - California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill barring a controversial therapy that aims to reverse homosexuality in minors, the measure's sponsor said on Sunday.

Brown's approval made California the first state to ban so-called conversion therapy. The move marked a major victory for gay rights advocates who say the therapy, also called reparative therapy, has no medical basis because homosexuality is not a disorder.

The bill's sponsor, state Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, said in a statement that Brown had signed the bill. An announcement from the governor's office was expected on Sunday.

The bill prohibits children and teens under 18 from undergoing sexual orientation change efforts. It got support from the American Psychiatric Association, California Psychological Association and the California Board of Behavioural Sciences, among others.

"LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] youth will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

He urged other states to follow California's lead.

Lieu said the psychiatrist who pioneered the therapy, Dr Robert Spitzer, has since renounced it and has apologized to the gay and lesbian community.

All major medical and mental health organizations including the American Medical Association have denounced the practice, supporters said.

Opponents said the bill encroached on the rights of parents to make choices for their children. They also said politicians should not regulate what they considered to be a matter for medical boards to decide.

The measure will take effect on 1 January.



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