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Lawmakers oppose gay-to-straight conversion therapy for minors

Psychotherapists in California would be prohibited from trying to "convert" minors from being gay to heterosexual under a bill approved Tuesday by a Senate panel.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said he introduced the measure because of concern about the use of "conversion therapy" which he said is based on the false assumption of some people that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured. He said some patients experience guilt, anger and depression after therapy.

"Not only does it not work, there is evidence it is dangerous," Lieu told the Senate Judiciary Committee before its three Democrats voted to send the measure to the Senate floor. The American Psychological Assn. in 2009 urged mental health professionals to avoid telling clients they can change their sexual orientation through therapy. The bill was backed Tuesday by groups including Equality California.

But the bill drew opposition from other groups including the California Psychiatric Assn. based on concern that it was too broadly written. "It will stop the conversation of somebody saying `I have some feelings and I would like to talk to you about it,'" said Amanda Levy of the California Psychological Assn.

The bill was also opposed by David Pickup, a Glendale psychotherapist who represents the National Assn. for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality. He said it would prevent theraputic help to young rape victims with sexuality questions.

Matthew McReynolds, an attorney for the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, warned the committee that the bill violates constitutional protections by "banning an entire category of speech based on the content of that speech."

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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

 
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