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California gay 'conversion' therapy ban generating hot debate

Gov. Jerry Brown's decision to sign legislation prohibiting a form of therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation from gay to straight has generated national debate.

"This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide,'' Brown wrote. "These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."

Talk back LACritics said the first-in-the-nation law takes away key parental rights.

The measure was supported by gay-rights groups including Equality California. Its president, Clarissa Filgioun, said the governor's action reaffirmed that the therapy practices are "relics of prejudice and abuse.''

The bill, SB 1172, was opposed by Republican lawmakers as an intrusion by the state into the decision of parents about how to raise their children. The conservative Pacific Justice Institute has said it will file a lawsuit alleging the measure violates constitutional protections, including the free speech rights of therapists and the right of patients to get access to information.

"The privacy concerns are fairly significant," said Matthew B. McReynolds, a staff attorney for the institute. "In our view, it's an intrusion beyond what the government has done before."

Brown's action was also criticized by Christopher Rosik, president of the Assn. for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). "NARTH is saddened but not surprised by this unprecedented legislative intrusion," Rosik said. "Citizens and especially parents should know the indifference that supporters of this bill have toward their freedom of choice."

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