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Social Issues
Gay Conversion Therapy: California Becomes The 1st American State To Ban It, Calling It A Quackery
October 1, 2012
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Are you familiar with the idea of gay conversion therapy? It's one of these backward ideas that's supposed to make gay people straight.

Basically, the thinking is that with professional help, counselling, and prayer, someone's homosexuality can be reversed.

Well, California has become the first state in America to ban gay conversion therapy, for people under the age of 18.

The law goes into effect on January 1st of next year.

In a statement, Governor Jerry Brown said he supported the bill and signed it into law because the therapy has "no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery".

The legislation was introduced by a Democratic state senator named Ted Lieu in remembrance of a man who committed suicide after undergoing the therapy.

Lieu says the practice amounts to "psychological child abuse", and in a statement said "If anyone had any doubts such practices were evil, they need only listen to accounts of victims who went through this abusive practice."

Human rights groups and gay rights advocates are happy about the decision.

The Human Rights Campaign encouraged other states to follow California's lead saying "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."

As well, the legislation received backing from the California Psychological Association, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Supporters say all major medical and mental health organizations have denounced gay conversion therapy as having no medical basis because homosexuality isn't a disorder. And they say the practice is psychologically damaging and can increase the risk of depression and suicide.

In fact, even the psychiatrist who pioneered the therapy, Dr. Robert Spitzer, has dismissed it and apologized to the gay and lesbian community. You can read more about that here.

Still, there are opponents of the bill (mainly Conservative groups and some Republicans) who say it infringes on the rights of parents to make choices for their children, who are going through "gender confusion."

The U.S. National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality has called the bill a "legislative over-reach".

And in August, the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays wrote a open letter to Lieu saying...

"Your bill will turn California into a nanny state by usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child's right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested. This smacks of fascism and ex-gay bashing."

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You might remember several years ago, American Evangelical Pastor Ted Haggard underwent three weeks of intense counselling to reverse his "gayness."

In late 2006, an escort and masseur accused Haggard of paying him for sex for three years. A few days later, Haggard resigned as the leader of the New Life Church in Colorado.

During his counselling, Haggard was treated by four ministers. In early 2007, one of those ministers said Pastor Ted "is completely heterosexual" and later said "the therapy gave Ted the tools to help to embrace his heterosexual side."

In early 2011, Haggard told GQ Magazine he still believes the Bible is clear that "homosexuality is not God's best plan for people."

He also said "I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual." You can read the full story here.

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