Calif. Gay Therapy Restriction Bill Called Intrusive, Unscientific

by Jim Bowen

SACRAMENTO, CA, June 3, 2012 (CNA) -- California's senate has approved a bill restricting the therapeutic treatment of homosexuality in minors. Critics say the measure fails to respect scientific standards, as well as personal and family rights.

Dr. Christopher Rosik, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), said the largely partisan May 30 vote represented a “triumph of political activism over objective science.”

Approved by a 23-13 margin, Senate Bill 1172 now awaits consideration by the state assembly.

“The American Psychological Association has observed that there are no studies by which to accurately estimate the effectiveness of sexual orientation change intervention or the prevalence of harm,” Rosik said in a May 31 statement, rejecting claims that sexual-orientation therapy is ineffective or harmful.

“In NARTH’s view,” he said, “a truly scientific response would call for more and better research to answer these questions, not a legislative ban that runs roughshod over professional judgment and parental choice.”

Although softened in some respects, amid criticism over issues of religious and personal freedom, the bill still contains its most controversial provision: It would ban those under 18 from receiving therapy or counseling for same-sex attraction, regardless of their wishes or the decision of their parents.

The new version of the bill does not contain earlier language applicable to the treatment of adults –  which would have pressured professionals to affirm same-sex attraction and discourage treatment, under threat of legal liability.

However, the most recent version of the bill includes a new declaration of the state's “compelling interest” in “protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality intends to continue fighting the measure in collaboration with the Pacific Justice Institute. The therapeutic association has urged supporters to contact California assembly members to support the rights of children and parents.

In addition to the objections raised by NARTH and its supporters, the bill has also drawn more surprising criticism from the L.A. Times editorial board – which rejects the therapeutic treatment of homosexuality, but does not believe the practice should be restricted by law.

California's legislature “is particularly ill-suited to solving the problems of families or prescribing norms for medical and psychiatric practice,” the paper said in a May 11 editorial.

“Legislators have no special insights into psychiatry, nor are they elected for their abilities as parents,” the editorial stated. “Frankly, it's worrisome to have them stepping in to tell therapists what they may or may not say or do to treat patients.”

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