California Puts LGBT ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban on Hold

California’s new law banning LGBT “conversion therapy” for youth was all set to go into effect on January 1st. But, as of Friday, the law was put on hold.

SB 1172 would have barred mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy, also known as “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy, on minors. The controversial therapy, which essentially attempts to turn gay people straight, is neither safe nor effective and has been widely criticized by the American Psychological Association and other national health organizations since at least 2000.

But no matter.

On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to block SB 1172 until a decision can be made about the law’s constitutionality.

Religious groups, especially, played a significant role in blocking the law:

“This is a very good sign for our clients,” said Mathew Staver, found of Liberty Counsel, a religious liberties group that sued to block the law, arguing that it violates free speech rights. “To get an injunction pending appeal is a very difficult thing to do.”

Staver’s group was much more blunt on its own website:

Without this emergency injunction, the State of California would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.

Thank the Lord that this astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling has been blocked.

As the Los Angeles Times also noted, the law has lower courts divided in terms of its constitutionality:

The federal judge in Sacramento who refused to block the law was appointed by President Obama. She concluded that it did not violate the 1st Amendment. Her colleague on the same bench, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, concluded that it was likely that the law infringed on free speech protections.

Perhaps most disturbing is that some advocates for reparative therapy — primarily the therapists themselves — are people who once underwent this attempted conversion, whether as youth or more recently. Notably absent are the voices of LGBT minors currently enduring reparative therapy. Perhaps we should ask them what they think about all this.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at

  • Phil

    The Religious Right will fight this law tooth and nail because it gets at the very basis of their entire argument against LGBT equality: sexual orientation is a conscious choice. Without that as a valid core belief, their opposition to any and all other laws and policies become very weak arguments indeed.

  • nakedanthropologist

    Even in sexual orientation was a “choice” they are still wrong. No one has to live by Christian “morals” (so-called) unless that is their own choice. The attemp to block this law is complete bullshit. Reparative therapy and the whole “pray the gay away” concept pushed by bigoted evangelicals has been shown (repeatedly) harmful to the patient(s). I sincerely hope that the courts do the right thing, and ban this utterly harmful and ghastly Christian practice.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    “I am sick and tired of everyone telling me I’m confused! I wasn’t confused until people started telling me I was.

    Leopold “Butters” Stotch

  • Kevin Smith

    “Perhaps most disturbing is that some advocates for reparative therapy — primarily the therapists themselves — are people who once underwent this attempted conversion, whether as youth or more recently.”

    It’s kind of like all the posts I see from my high school classmates on Facebook, who regret that today’s kids weren’t paddled in school like we were. Apparently, misery loves company.

    Personally, the thing that nauseates me most is the insistence that everyone who is gay became that way because they were molested. That’s such complete BS. These people have to know that many of their clients had no such experiences and aren’t suffering from “unwanted” attraction to the same sex. Or maybe part of the purpose of the electroshock component is to induce false stories of victimization.

  • Greisha

    While so called “therapy” is most likely a fraud and waste of time and money, to ban it we need reliable evidence that it harms teens. Otherwise it will be clearly politically motivated law – why not to ban homeopathy, for example?

  • Thin-ice

    Greisha, you are much too accommodating on this subject. Why should any teen be coerced by their parents to undergo this “reparative” brainwashing bullshit? I’m sure that very few gay young people under this treatment actually suggested or requested it for themselves. It reeks of the the lobotomy science that was popular in the 1950′s. Why should it be allowed today, and if you don’t think it can emotionally damage someone, then you need to google reparative therapy and read a few personal accounts from people who went through it.

  • Isilzha

    Actually, if a parent insisted on treating their child’s cancer with homeopathy the state could take away their child in order to protect them from harm. Being a parent does not mean that you own the life of your child! Children have a right to be protected from the abusive or life threatening choices their parents would impose on them.

  • Greisha

    @ThinIce: Lobotomy was *scientifically* proven to be harmful. If we see scientific (not anecdotal) evidence that “therapy” is harmful vs. just a waste of time and money, I am all for banning this stupid therapy.

    @Isilzha: Using homeopathy instead of actual cancer treatment is a red herring argument here because homosexuality is not a treat to teen’s health and bogus therapy is not a substitute for an actual treatment.

    Finally, like it or not, but parents are in charge of their underage children, unless a court decides that they do something actually criminal.

  • Godlesspanther

    The Constitution declares the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Or does that not apply to gay teenagers?

  • Ben

    I wonder what the reaction would be to an “De-Christianisation Therapy”, or a “De-Relgiousisation Therapy” that claimed to cure believers of the mental disorder known as “faith”.

    It might just work, you know, because “faith” is a conscious lifestyle choice.

    What do you think?

  • Thin-ice

    So you’re cool with the emotional damage that this bullshit HAS CAUSED to gay young people, because it’s still legal, and their parents have the right to inflict it upon them??? Please answer . . .

  • Greisha

    I agree with your definition of this “therapy” as a bullshit, but to the best of my knowledge there are no enough scientific evidence of damages, emotional or physical. It is a reason it may remain legal.