Tuesday, July 1, 2014

HIgh Court Lets Law Banning Reparative Therapies for Minors Take Effect

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear the appeal of a case challenging California's law barring use of so-called "conversion therapies" or "reparative therapies" to change the sexual orientation of minors from homosexual to heterosexual. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the constitutionality of the law in a ruling issued last August, finding that the ban on these therapies served the state's interest in protecting minors from harm and did not violate the free-speech rights of practitioners who want to use these interventions. By declining to hear an appeal of that decision from a Christian legal aid group known as Liberty Counsel, the High Court allowed the appeals court's ruling to stand and the state to begin enforcing the law. As is customary when it declines to hear an appeal, the Supreme Court gave no explanation for its decision. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a similar law last year, but it too is facing a legal challenge.

"The Supreme Court has cement shut any possible opening to allow further psychological child abuse in California," state Sen. Ted Lieu, the law's sponsor, said Monday. "The Court's refusal to accept the appeal of extreme ideological therapists who practice the quackery of gay conversion therapy is a victory for child welfare, science and basic humane principles."

Psychiatrist Jack Drescher, M.D., who in 2000 drafted APA's position statement opposing sexual orientation conversion or reparative therapies, told Psychiatric News that,"While legislation is not the ideal way to promote best clinical practices in psychotherapy settings, the reality of what is happening on the ground left few options. The fact is that vulnerable children are being brought by their parents to 'therapists' engaging in questionable practices in order to change their sexual orientation. APA and other mainstream health and mental health organizations have found no scientific basis for the efficacy of conversion therapies, and in refusing to hear an appeal of California's gay conversion 'therapy' ban for minors, the Supreme Court has rightly acknowledged that regulating what licensed professionals can say to their patients is not the same thing as regulating free speech."

APA's position statement on reparative and conversion therapies is posted here.

(image: Brandon Bourdages/Shutterstock)


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