Just days after California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that bans so-called 'conversation' therapy that attempts to turn gay kids straight, a conservative group is suing to keep the law from going into effect.
The Pacific Justice Institute filed a lawsuit late Monday (1 October) in federal court in Sacramento claiming that the law is a violation of free speech rights of therapists and of the privacy rights of patients and their parents.
'This outrageous bill makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction, nor does it respect the consciences of mental health professionals who work in a church,' institute president Brad Dacus tells the Los Angeles Times. 'We are filing suit to defend families, children and religious freedom.'
Supporters of the law, the first of its kind in the US, blasted the institute for its legal filing.
'This lawsuit is a desperate, last ditch effort to defend the indefensible,' said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell. 'The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and dangerous. The state has a clear duty to protect minors from harm, and that is exactly what this law does.'
The law applies not only to sexual orientation but also to gender expression. It seeks to protect LGBT young people from practices which include the use of shame, verbal abuse, and aversion therapy that backers of the law say place youth at high risk of depression and suicide.
The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2013, prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in these practices with minors.