California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to put an end to so-called ex-gay therapy against LGBT youth, making his the first state to protect young people from such practices.
The law goes into effect January 1, 2013, and prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in "reparative therapy" with minors. Advocates for the bill say that conversion therapy uses dangerous tactics that place youth at a high risk of depression and suicide.
"Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors’ sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians," Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president, said in a statement Saturday.
The bill was authored by Sen. Ted Lieu, and co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California.
Two men who had endured such therapy, Ryan Kendall and Peter Drake, told the California assembly committee of business, professions, and consumer protection about their experiences.
"As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family," Kendall said. "In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide."