A ban on the use of anti-gay “conversion” therapies on minors will come into effect in California, as of the 1st of January 2013. In signing the bill, California Governor Jerry Brown said he was supporting the bill as it ” bans non-scientific therapies that have driven young people to depression and suicide.”
For those who aren’t familiar with “conversion” therapies they are largely carried out by fundamental religious organisations such as Exodus Ministries, who attempt to “convert” those who have same sex attractions into heterosexuals. Sometimes referred to as “praying the gay away” they use what many professionals consider to be psychologically damaging techniques with homosexuality being portrayed as a “choice” which can be overcome, and as an inferior and sinful “lifestyle”.
Of course not everyone is happy with this decision. Opponents of the bill have argued that it is “usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child’s right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested”
This real sentiment behind this statement isn’t too hard to miss. What I suspect it means is that “if my child identifies as gay or lesbian then I have every right to inflict whatever treatment on them to make them the way I want them to be.” They are pursuing their own interests, not that of their child.
Some deeply troubling insights into “Ex-gay” organisations can be found by listening to ex-“ex-gays”
While the new bill does not ban the use of these therapies outright, it does at least protect those at a particularly vulnerable time. The life of a gay or lesbian teenager is not usually an easy one. Along with the multitude of changes going on in one’s life, the growing awareness that one is attracted to the same sex can be quite confronting. For those with a religious background this creates incredible internal conflicts which are much better served by supportive family and friends than getting involved with dangerous and damaging psychological pseudoscience.