A federal appeals court has put California’s plans to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy for minors on hold.
On Friday (21 December), a three-judge panel of the ninth US circuit court of appeals issued an emergency order putting the law on hold until the court can hear full arguments on the measure’s constitutionality.
Despite the World Health Organization calling it ‘dangerous and abusive’, the court is concerned it will affect the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists and churches who would have been banned from carrying out the practice.
The law was set to take effect on 1 January.
Signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the law would have stopped therapists and counselors from using dangerous methods to ‘change’ a person under the age of 18’s sexual orientation.
Right-wing anti-gay legal aid group Liberty Counsel’s president Matthew Staver applauded the court’ decision.
‘The law is politically motivated to interfere with counselors and clients,’ he said. ‘This law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and would have caused irreparable harm.’
When the governor signed the law, he said the ban would outlaw ‘quackery’ that have no basis in science or medicine.
Lynda Gledhill, press secretary to state attorney general Kamala Harris, said California was correct to outlaw this ‘unsound and harmful practice’.
When the bill was signed in September, president of the HRC Chad Griffin said: ‘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.’
On 4 December, the ban was temporarily stopped by district judge William Shubb, but was quickly reversed by another judge Kimberley Mueller.
In April 2012, the father of gay cure therapy Bob Spitzer said he now wants to retract his 2001 study which proclaimed gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation.
He said: ‘I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy.
‘I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.’
The American Psychological Association went on the record in 1975 stating homosexuality is not an illness and views ‘gay cure’ practices as ‘inappropriate, unethical and inhumane.’