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State Senate OKs bill banning 'conversion therapy' for gay youths

May 30, 2012 |  3:19 pm

State Sen. Ted LieuThe state Senate voted Wednesday to prohibit psychotherapists in California from using a kind of therapy aimed at trying to "convert" minors from being gay to heterosexual.

State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said the therapy is based on "junk science" that has been discredited by many in the medical community. "It’s not just that people are wasting their time and money on these therapies that don’t work," Lieu said. "These therapies are dangerous."

He said he authored SB 1172 after hearing of gay youths committing suicide or living in depression after therapists pressured them with guilt to change their sexual orientation.

The Senate voted 23 to 13 to approve the measure and send it to the Assembly for consideration.

The bill is opposed by David Pickup, a Glendale psychotherapist who represents the National Assn. for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality. He said recently that it would interfere with providing theraputic help to young rape victims with sexual identity questions.

The measure is also opposed by the California Psychiatric Assn. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said some medical professionals are concerned that the bill is "overly broad and might prohibit their ability to engage in discussions about sexuality."

Lieu said he was willing to work with psychologists and psychiatrists to address their concerns as the bill continues to be considered in the Assembly.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) has introduced legislation that would ban a controversial form of psychotherapy that seeks to "convert" gay minors to heterosexuality. Photographer:  AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli.

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