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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 4, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 18
EQCA-Sponsored Bill to Curb Sexual Orientation Conversion 'Therapy' Headed to Senate Floor
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EQCA-Sponsored Bill to Curb Sexual Orientation Conversion 'Therapy' Headed to Senate Floor

(San Francisco) An Equality California-sponsored bill designed to limit the ability of psychotherapists in California to provide so-called 'therapies' to change the sexual orientation of their patients is headed to the Senate floor after being approved today by the Senate Judiciary Committee today. The bill, which is co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and Mental Health America of Northern California, was previously approved by the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on April 23.

Senate Bill 1172, authored by Senator Ted Lieu, would ban all sexual orientation change efforts with respect to minors, regardless of a parent's willingness or desire to authorize such "treatments." Senate Bill 1172 would also prohibit therapists from engaging in these practices with adult patients without first disclosing the risks of harm and obtaining the patient's informed consent. Under the law, adult patients must be provided with the following statement prior to consenting to treatment:

"Having a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a mental disorder. Sexual orientation change efforts have not been shown to be safe or effective and can, in fact, be harmful. The risks include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior and suicide.

The American Psychological Association convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation and it concluded:

"Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of sexual orientation change efforts practitioners and advocates."

The American Academy of Pediatrics states:

"Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation."

The American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs prepared a report in which it stated:

"Aversion therapy (a behavioral or medical intervention which pairs unwanted behavior, in this case, homosexual behavior, with unpleasant sensations or aversive consequences) is no longer recommended for gay men and lesbians. Through psychotherapy, gay men and lesbians can become comfortable with their sexual orientation and understand the societal response to it."

The National Association of Social Workers states:

"Social stigmatization of lesbian, gay and bisexual people is widespread and is a primary motivating factor in leading some people to seek sexual orientation changes. Sexual orientation conversion therapies assume that homosexual orientation is both pathological and freely chosen. No data demonstrates that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and, in fact, they may be harmful."

"For decades, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people -- particularly youth -- have suffered psychological abuse by those who are entrusted to care for their emotional and psychological well-being," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California Board President. "It's long past time to do everything in our power to put an end to the use of therapy tactics that have no sound scientific basis and that cause lifelong damage."

Recently, Dr. Robert Spitzer, the author of a study often cited by proponents to validate sexual orientation change efforts as a legitimate therapeutic practice, redacted the study and issued a formal apology to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

If approved, Senate Bill 1172 would be the first law of its kind in the nation.

To learn more about Equality California-sponsored legislation, visit eqca.org/legislation.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 85 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org

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