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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
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California Can’t Ban Gay Conversion Therapy Yet

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The 9th Circuit refused to let California ban gay "conversion therapy" on Jan. 1, broadening an injunction that the trial court applied to only three opponents of the law.

Passed by the Legislature in 2011, SB 1172 prohibits California-licensed psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors from using sexual-orientation change therapy and other "reparative methods" on patients younger than 18.

A psychiatrist, a licensed family therapist and a patient who claimed "sexual orientation change therapy" worked for him sued the state in October, asking the court to enjoin the ban before it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

On Dec. 3, Senior U.S. District Judge William Shubb temporarily enjoined the law because it "lacks content and viewpoint neutrality." He found that the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights superseded the alleged potential harm to minors.

Since Shubb applied the ruling only to the three plaintiffs, however, the 9th Circuit received a more-than-400-page emergency motion from several Christian therapists and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

They said enforcement of SB 1172 would destroy their careers and chill their free-speech rights.

Minors who seek help fighting homosexuality would suffer irreparable harm, the therapists said.

"SB 1172 will require the counselors to disavow all prior counseling and reverse course," according to the motion authored by Liberty Counsel attorney Mary McAlister. "The minors will be confused and suffer irreparable harm. A minor sexually abused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky who suffers severe emotional distress and who experiences unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and acts out same-sex sexual behaviors will be told by his counselor that he should not seek to reduce or eliminate such attractions or behavior. Only one viewpoint is allowed. Under 'no circumstances' may a counselor seek to reduce or eliminate same-sex attractions or behavior notwithstanding the fact the client is begging for such counsel."

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