Last year California became the first state to prohibit so-called “conversion therapy” to patients under the age of 18. On Thursday, that bill was upheld by a U.S. federal appeals court.
The suit, Pickup v Brown, filed in December 2012 by Liberty Counsel argued that the ban violated the free speech rights of mental health professionals and minor patients. The three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court disagreed, finding that “California has the authority to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies that the legislature has deemed harmful. The fact that speech may be used to carry out those therapies does not turn the prohibitions of conduct into prohibitions of speech.”
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, says his group will file a motion for the court to rehear the case. If the court rejects that motion, Staver said his group will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Conversion therapy has been deemed potentially harmful to minor patients. It “could cause family alienation or distress because some of the sexual orientation change efforts blame parents for their children’s sexual orientation. It could cause an increase in self-destructive behaviors,” said Dr. Judith Glassgold, chair of the American Psychological Association task force that recently published the report “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.”