SACRAMENTO — On Aug. 30, less than three months after one of the nation’s leading doctors on ex-gay “cures” recanted his often-cited study, California’s Legislature on a 22-12 vote sent Gov. Jerry Brown a milestone bill to end the now-discredited attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation.
“Few things are more offensive than child abuse and, frankly, that’s what these types of psychological treatments are,” said Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), author of Senate Bill 1172, which he introduced in February. “These attempts are quackery, and this kind of psychological abuse of children must stop.”
Brown has not taken a position on SB 1172, and he has until Sept. 30 to sign, veto or allow its protections to take effect without his signature on Jan. 1, 2013. It would be the first such measure to be enacted in the nation.
Lieu introduced the patient-protection plan to help raise public awareness of practices by mental-health providers who claim they can help change a person’s sexual orientation. He labeled such efforts as non-scientific and dangerous because in some cases patients later committed suicide or suffered severe mental and physical anguish. Those facts became part of the public record during lengthy testimony presented during policy-committee reviews on SB 1172.
As written, SB 1172 would prohibit children under 18 from undergoing sexual orientation-change efforts.
Citing nearly 40 years of research by mental health experts, SB 1172 is based on the following points:
• An individual’s sexual orientation, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.
• Sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, hopelessness, shame, suicide, self-hatred, decreased self-esteem and a host of anger, dysfunction and dehumanized feelings.
• There is insufficient evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person’s sexual orientation. Instead, abusive attempts to change sexual orientation in some cases have caused serious and lasting harm.
“If anyone had any doubts such practices were evil, they need only read how the person who brought any legitimacy to this kind of psychological technique, Dr. Robert Spitzer, renounced his study and apologized to the LGBT community,” Lieu said.