On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB1172 into law. The measure which had been promoted by Democratic Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance, would prohibit psychological abuse of children and efforts to impose changes to sexual orientation for anyone under 18. The law, which comes into effect from January, 2013, bans conversion therapy for minors. In a statement issued to the public, Governor Brown said such therapies “have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” Conversion therapy is usually used to convince and pressurizing gay teenagers into acting straight.
Many conservative religious groups had opposed the move, arguing that the ban on conversion therapy would interfere with the rights of parents to care for children experiencing gender confusion. Apparently, the legislature does not agree with such notions, though the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality had said in August that banning conversion therapy would be a case of legislative overreach.
However, gay rights groups have always maintained that the practice of ‘conversion’ therapy on children put youth at higher risk of depression and suicide. In a statement issued in response to the signing of the bill into law, the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement, “We’re grateful to Gov. Brown for standing with California’s children …. LGBT 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.”