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'Gay Conversion' Therapy Banned in California

California becomes the first state to ban controversial anti-gay psychotherapy.

Gov. Jerry Brown acted on more than 100 pieces of legislation this weekend.
Gov. Jerry Brown acted on more than 100 pieces of legislation this weekend.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation late Sunday that makes California the first state to ban the practice of gay conversion therapy on minors. Also called "reparative therapy," the controversial form of psychotherapy is aimed to turn gay teenagers straight.

The therapies "have no basis in science or medicine," Brown said, "and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery." 

California mental health practitioners are prohibited from performing sexual orientation change efforts. Many California mental health associations support Gov. Brown and the legislation, including the state's Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Psychological Association.

"We're grateful to Gov. Brown for standing with California's children," the Human Rights Campaign said. "LGBT youth will now by 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."

However, some religious groups have argued the benefits of conversion therapy, saying the ban will prohibit parents' rights in helping their children with gender confusion. Religious ministries and organizations have used prayer and therapy in the past to aid in the removal of unwanted homosexual thoughts and feelings.

The National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, based in Encino, Calif., said in August that the bill was "legislative overreach" and founded on opinion rather than research.

Many mainstream associations for psychologists and psychotherapists have dismissed conversion therapy and say the bill will keep children from mental harm.

The ban will officially be put into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

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