SACRAMENTO (AP) - California will become the first state to ban a controversial form of psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed SB1172 by Democratic Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance. Lieu says the law will prevent children from being psychologically abused.
Effective Jan. 1, the state will prohibit what is known as reparative or conversion therapy for minors. Brown says the therapies "have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."
Gay rights groups say the practice is dangerous because it can put youth at higher risk of depression and suicide.
In his mid-20's Sacramento chiropractor Dr. Derrick Lawson decided to go through conversion therapy - trying to explore and perhaps change his sexual orientation.
"It is an incredibly depressing and stressful type of therapy to undergo and there are people who don't survive it," Lawson said of his two and a half year experience undergoing therapy.
Lawson said he tried conversion therapy because he felt pressured.
"This is a sin and you've got to become straight and here's therapy that'll help you do that," Lawson said.
Therapists say the practice of conversion therapy has been discredited by scientific research.
"We have the science now that we didn't have before that sexual orientation is not something that can be changed," said Sacramento psychologist Debra Moore, adding, "It does a great disservice to people to fight against something that is biologically innate."
Conservative religious groups and some Republicans argue that banning conversion therapy would hinder parents' right to provide psychological care for children experiencing gender confusion.
The Pacific Justice Institute is filing a lawsuit against the law, arguing it does too much to abridge a deeply personal decision.
"There are many individuals who have come forward, even during the legislative process and said this kind of therapy helped me. It changed my life in a positive way," said Matthew McReynolds with the Pacific Justice Institute.
The new law is set to take effect on January 1st.
The Associated Press