US: Federal appeals court upholds California ban on ex-gay therapy

Ruling says law does not infringe upon free-speech rights of counsellors and patients

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has upheld a California law prohibiting licensed health practitioners from providing conversion therapy aimed at making gay youth straight, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

The three-member court panel’s Aug 29 ruling was unanimous.

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News cites Circuit Judge Susan Graber’s written judgment on behalf of the court, which states that the measure is a “regulation of professional conduct” and “does not violate the free speech rights of [mental health] practitioners or minor patients, is neither vague nor overbroad, and does not violate parents’ fundamental rights.”

The AP report notes, however, that the law does not cover the activities of pastors and lay counsellors who are unlicensed and offer conversion therapy through church programs.

Governor Jerry Brown of California had signed the legislation last September, saying that the measure “bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery,” Brown said.

But a number of therapists, two families that said their teen sons benefited from reparative therapy, and a national association of Christian mental-health counsellors sued to block enforcement of the law.

The law, which was due to take effect at the beginning of 2013, was put on hold pending the appeals court ruling, which now reverses the injunction.

But while the appeals court has lifted the injunction on the law, those opposed to it may still ask an 11-judge panel of the court to reconsider the case, Pink News reports.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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