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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

EQCA Advances Bill to Limit Sexual Orientation Conversion Treatment by Mental Health Care Providers

(San Francisco) An Equality California-sponsored bill designed to limit the ability of psychotherapists in California to provide so-called “therapies” to change the sexual orientation of their patients was approved by the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee today on a 5-3 vote. Senate Bill 1172, authored by Senator Ted Lieu, would prohibit a psychotherapist from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts without first disclosing the risk of harm and obtaining the patient’s informed consent. The bill would also prohibit all sexual orientation change efforts with respect to minors, regardless of a parent's willingness or desire to authorize such “treatments.”

“For decades, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people—particularly youth—have suffered psychological abuse by those who are entrusted to care for their emotional and psychological well-being,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California Board President. “It's long past time to do everything in our power to put an end to the use of therapy tactics that have no sound scientific basis and that cause lifelong damage.”

In 2007, the American Psychological Association convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The task force conducted an intensive review of peer-reviewed studies and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm. The American Psychiatric Association published a position statement in March of 2000 in which it states that it “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder.” Most leading medical and mental health associations have taken similar positions cautioning against the use of sexual orientation change efforts.

Senate Bill 1172 is part of a broader effort on the part of Equality California in 2012 to protect and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Another legislative initiative, Assembly Bill 1856, which was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee on April 10, will increase safety for and improve the emotional well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth in foster care by creating cultural competency standards that must be met by any foster homes housing LGBT youth. Equality California is also partnering with Gay Straight Alliance Network, The Trevor Project, ACLU of California and Transgender Law Center to organize Queer Youth Advocacy Day on Monday, April 30, 2012, which brings youth activists to Sacramento to meet with representatives from their districts to advocate for policies that affect LGBT youth—particularly those related to safe schools.