Law That Would Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ For Minors Blocked by Federal Court

Conversion therapy is controversial, dangerous, and ineffective. But Christian-rights groups claim banning it violates the right to free speech.

A new law in California which would subject psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to disciplinary action from their licensing boards for providing ‘conversion therapy’ to minors has been put on hold by a federal court of appeals. CNN reports that the law which was set to go into effect on January, 1, 2013, has been blocked by the federal panel of three judges at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, pending a decision on the constitutionality of the law.

The ruling will keep the law, the first of its kind in the United States, from being instituted until it can be argued at future court hearings … Conversion therapy has been being hotly debated across the country.

Some psychologists insist conversion therapy is dangerous to patients, and say it simply does not work.

The American Psychological Association which is the largest organization of both scientific and professional clinicians representing psychology in the U.S., writes on its website,

To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective … Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons.

However, a Christian-rights group which represents a group of therapists, minors and their parents has sued the state of California claiming the new law is in violation of their right to free speech.

The three-judge panel has given no indication of when they might rule on the injunction, but have scheduled briefings over the next several weeks.

What do you think? Should Conversion Therapy be banned for minors, or is it a parent’s right to put their kid into these programs?

Picture: Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. John Anderson says:

    The law is very inconsistent when it comes to religion and minors. A minor girl can have an abortion without her parents consent or even their knowledge. I don’t think children need parental permission to get free condoms in schools on the other hand circumcision bans for infant boys never seem to pass, but even type 4 FGC remains unacceptable although much less traumatic and less permanent than routine MGC. Gay to straight conversion therapy should be banned for minors and knowing the 9th circuit’s liberal bent should remain banned.

  2. Subject matter aside, it’s great that we want to be governed by an international committee. Mediahoud, you mention the UN Article that protects children. Look at the recent articles on GMP and note the one about buying ornaments and the child labor that’s making them. I’d venture to say that if you take a look at some of the products within your home, you’ll more then likely see that some child in a sweat shop assisted in manufacturing them. And I would also like to mention that some of the UN supporters imprison gays.

    Homosexuality is currently illegal in 76 UN countries and punishable by death in five. What’s being done about this?

  3. Conversion Therapy is the wrong terminology. It is not therapy. Calling by it’s alternative name “reparative therapy” is no better.

    Therapy implies that there is some form of morbidity or illness that the therapy treats. The Position in both law and medicine is that sexuality is not a medical condition unless it is such that a person acts in such a way as to sexually damage another human.

    So you take you pick of the alternate words, because the present ones aint working. How about born again therapy? changeover therapy? metamorphosis therapy? transmogrification therapy? Conversion Knackery? Conversion Abuse?

    Even the word Conversion implies that such a conversion is possible, so when some guy or gall a true Kinsey Zero has been converted through therapy to a Kinsey 6… and they are happy with the outcome of the experiment I may change my mind. A a Full Kinsey 6 I’m also happy to do quality control, and I can assure you I know both the meaning of quality and control. In the interim I would look to the UN for a number of pointers:

    UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS – Article 3. Article 5. Article 7. Article 8. Article 12. Article 30.

    UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child – The One that only The USA and Somalia have not ratified, and if it had been ratified it would address this very issues from article 2 and then onwards from there;

    Article 2
    1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child
    within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her
    parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national,
    ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

    2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all
    forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or
    beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.

    Until it gets sorted it really is a bad idea to keep using Conversion Therapy as a name, because it’s only getting used in the USA and Somalia.

  4. Technically, the Christian groups have a point. It is a freedom of expression issue (I do not see how banning conversion therapy would violate their right to talk about or advocate it). People can legally indoctrinate their children however they please as long as it does no harm.

    The latter is the tricky issue, and I know of no research that shows the therapy to be successful, let alone harmless. I see no reason to allow the therapy to continue. However, if the groups can pull together some… evidence proving there is no harm or that it is in some way effective, then they would have the legal position to argue their point.

    This also falls into religious freedom, so I think the courts may side with the Christian groups even if they find that the therapy is harmful and ineffective.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    It was either the psychologists’ national org, or the psychiatrists’ national org whose diagnostic resource said homosexuality was a mental illness not so long ago.
    Fashions change.
    Could change back, so be careful who you use for authority.
    In addition, if people are “born” that way, it’s possible that pre-natal testing could discover it, leading to abortion against homosexuality. Opposing that would be a challenge, since pro-choice groups can’t even oppose abortion for sex-selection, even when it’s against girls.
    Or DNA or other reparative therapy might be available in utero. Whose choice now?
    Point is, one or the other is true, or possibly both, and insisting that no attempt at changing be available is going to run into science.

Speak Your Mind