Ban on ‘ex-gay’ therapy blocked by California judge

A federal judge has blocked California’s recent ban on “ex-gay” therapy for minors, but the ban is limited to three therapist plaintiffs. Psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch and Aaron Bitzer, a former patient who is studying to become a counselor, filed a challenge to California’s SB 1172 which bars minors from undergoing controversial techniques that attempt to change sexual orientation and are the only three people legally allowed to continue the practice in the state of California.

Every major medical association decries the use of so-called reparative therapy and the American Psychiatric Association issued a report calling the practice harmful and ineffective.

The exemption for the three plaintiffs will remain in place until a trial can be held. National Center for Lesbian Rights Director Shannon Minter said he was disappointed in the decision, but pleased that the stay will only affect three therapists.

“The judge stressed that he was willing to issue the ruling in part because it is temporary and applies only to three individuals. We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients,” he said. “California did the right thing by enacting this law, and we are confident the courts will find that it is not only constitutional, but vitally necessary. It is heartbreaking to think of the terrible damage that has been done to so many LGBT youth and their families, and of the lives that have been lost or destroyed because of these discredited practices.”

There are several therapists in Utah who practice “reparative therapy” and the price for the sessions can be more than $10,000 annually.

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