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California First In Nation To Ban 'Gay Cures' For Minors

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California became the first state in the nation to ban therapies that promise a "gay cure" for minors.

Governor Jerry Brown announced today that he signed a bill into law (SB 1172) that will crack down on therapies that seek to change a minor's sexual orientation. It will go into effect on January 1 of next year, according to a release from Sen. Ted W. Lieu, who introduced the bill.

"No one should stand idly by while children are being [psychologically] abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable," said Lieu, in the release.

The new law drew praise from LGBTQ groups, including Equality California which was one of several groups that sponsored the bill.

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"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," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California president, in a statement.

Supporters of the bill say scientific studies show that the reparative therapy does not work and that it can later lead to severe mental and physical anguish and even suicide. The bill was supported by a range of mental health organizations, including the California Psychological Association; California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences; and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) says the law suffers from a "(complete) lack of a scientific basis" and indicates that it plans to seek a temporary injunction against the law.

Lieu says that the law was partially crafted in memory of Kirk Murphy, who was enrolled in experimental government-sponsored therapy in the 1970's at UCLA after his mother noticed him playing with Barbie dolls and "girlie" toys. Initially, the treatment that relied on physical punishment was considered a success because he no longer exhibited "feminine" characteristics. His family later said that his personality drastically changed for the worse after that therapy. He committed suicide at age 38, and his family blames the treatment and its abuses for his downward spiral.