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New Law Harms Adolescents, Undermines Parental Rights and Ignores Science

In recent months an almost unbelievable story has unfolded in the State of California. Unless it is blocked by a court injunction, a new law in California (SB 1172) will prohibit any licensed therapist from providing therapy to minors to help them deal with their unwanted same-sex attraction.

If this new law goes into effect, the human consequences will be tragic. It would mean that many young people in California who want help in dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction, and who could be helped, will not be able to receive that help. This would be bad enough, but there are other troubling implications as well. SB 1172 is a direct assault on parental rights to provide the healthcare they believe is best for their children. It is also an assault on the principle that public policy should be based on solid science to the maximum extent possible.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Ted Lieu, argues that this treatment, often called reorientation therapy, should be prohibited because it is based on “junk science” and inflicts harm on patients. In Lieu’s mind, the potential for harm is so great that these adolescents must be protected by the state even from their own parents who want to help them. In fact, he proudly brags that one of his primary goals is to do just that. A majority of California legislators agree that the state knows better than parents what is best for their children.

While Senator Lieu and supporters of the bill claim that it is based on scientific and clinical evidence, this is not the case. They do cite statements from mental health professional associations, but they are cited in ways that can be misleading unless one understands the full context. For example, most of these statements do not refer to individuals experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction who are actively seeking help for this condition.

The reality is that this bill flies in the face of strong scientific and clinical evidence that some people can and do change their sexual orientation and that most of those people (though certainly not all of them) do so with help from the therapy that would be banned for adolescents. An excellent survey of 125 years of this research and clinical evidence was completed in 2009 by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). This survey demonstrated conclusively that sexual orientation can change and that there is no unusual risk associated with this therapy.

While it is understandable how someone not actually familiar with the facts might be confused by Lieu’s claims, he and his colleagues and Governor Jerry Brown cannot use that excuse. During the debates on SB 1172, ample testimony and other evidence was provided to them by experts in the field. These included therapists who are successfully treating both minors and adults with unwanted same-sex attraction who have been helped by this therapy.

How is it, then, that SB 1172 became law?

Politics, not science and clinical experience, drove this legislation – specifically, the political agenda of homosexual activist groups. To accomplish their objectives they must continue to perpetuate and promote the myth that homosexuality is innate and immutable, meaning that homosexuals are “born that way” and therefore cannot change. The reality is that no scientific evidence supports this position, and no credible researchers in the field (many of whom are themselves openly homosexual) make this claim. On the other hand, as noted above, there is strong scientific and clinical evidence that homosexuals are not “born that way.” (For a discussion on the true nature of homosexuality, see the FWI policy briefs “What You Need to Know About Homosexuality” and “Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction Can Be Successfully Treated.”)

With this legislative victory in California, homosexual activists are now pushing to enact similar laws in other states. A similar bill has been introduced in Pennsylvania and two legislators in New Jersey have announced that they are preparing to introduce legislation there. Legislators in other states are reportedly looking at doing the same.

Enactment of this law in California, however, may well prove costly to homosexual activists in the long run. Its passage has energized conservatives generally, including those concerned about unwarranted government encroachment on the rights of parents. The law also opens up opportunities to educate the public and policymakers about the true nature of homosexuality and the therapeutic options for dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction. With greater public awareness, parents in states like New Jersey will be easier to mobilize against similar legislation.

Moreover, two lawsuits to block this bill in California already have been filed. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits include parents of children who had been receiving the now unlawful therapy and who know that it is helping them. The more formal rules of evidence and procedures in a court of law will ensure the real facts on reorientation therapy are set forth in a forum that is less political than the current California legislature.

All of these developments undercut the efforts of the homosexual activists to perpetuate the “born that way” myth. The increased public education on the nature of homosexuality and effectiveness of therapy means that more adolescents with unwanted same-sex attraction will ultimately be helped in other states. This more aggressive education effort in the U.S. also inevitably will undercut efforts of homosexual activists to ban reorientation therapy at the international level. If you live outside of the U.S., you should be aware that there are international movements to enact similar therapy bans; an example is a statement from the Pan American Health Organization calling for the criminalization of reorientation therapy.

Family Watch will keep you informed of developments on this issue and will continue to provide resources to help you counteract any proposed laws like California’s SB 1172 from being passed where you live.


Sheldon Kinsel
FWI Director of Policy and Research

News Items of Interest


Moroccan Navy Blocks Dutch Abortion Ship. In its first attempt to visit a Muslim country, the Women on Waves abortion ship was denied entry into Morocco. The group spreads awareness of abortion and performs abortions on women when the ship is in international waters. Abortion is illegal in Morocco. Read more here.

Morning After Pill Will Not Decrease Teen Pregnancy. A pilot program provides emergency contraception to students in New York City without parental notification. There may not be a real need for the program, which dispenses a potentially dangerous and controversial drug to hundreds of teenage girls, since the teen pregnancy rate has actually declined 20 percent in the last ten years in New York City. Read more here.

Court Upholds Alaska’s Parental Notification Law on Abortion. Alaska Superior Court Judge John Suddock ruled that the parental notification law requiring girls who are minors to tell their parents they want to have an abortion is constitutional. Groups, including Planned Parenthood, sued to overturn the law saying it was a violation of the privacy rights of minors. Read more here.

Homosexuality Related

Lawsuit Filed Against California Homosexual Therapy Ban. The public interest law firm, Liberty Counsel, is representing several parents whose children are undergoing treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction and are benefitting from the therapy. Joining in the lawsuit are several counselors, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), and the American Association for Christian Counselors. Read more here.

Russian Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Homosexual Propaganda. The court ruled on the ban passed in St. Petersburg and clarified that the law can only be applied to direct appeals to minors to engage in homosexual activity. “Gay Pride” parades and events are legal, and information about homosexuality can be provided to minors if it is “neutral." Read more here.

Police Ban “Gay Pride” March in Serbia. Serbian police in Belgrade cited security concerns fearing a repeat of the violence that erupted two years ago at a “Gay Pride” event in the city that injured over 100 people. Read more here.

Ukraine Parliament Votes to Outlaw “Promotion of Homosexuality.” A note accompanying the text of the draft law stated, “The spread of homosexuality constitutes a threat to national security as it leads to an HIV/AIDS epidemic and also destroys the institute of family and can trigger a demographic crisis.” The law would amend Ukraine’s criminal code and would punish individuals convicted of importing, producing or spreading “works that promote homosexuality” with jail terms of up to five years. Read more here.

More Homosexual Characters on U.S. Television. A report by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) states that there are 111 LGBT characters in regular or recurring roles in U.S. television shows. According to GLAAD President Herndon Graddick, the increasing numbers reflect “a cultural change in the way gay and lesbian people are seen in our society.” Read more here.

British Counseling Association Opposes Sexual Reorientation Therapy. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has warned its members of its opposition to the treatment of individuals who experience unwanted same-sex attraction and desire to reorient to opposite-sex attraction. Therapists who offer such treatment to their clients may stand to lose their membership in the association. Read more here.

Campaign to Ban Same-sex Attraction Therapy Expanding. Homosexual activists are planning to get other states to join California in banning therapy aimed at helping individuals who experience unwanted same-sex attraction to reorient. Legislators in New Jersey are already working on legislation for their state. Read more here.

Survey Finds Only One in 66 Brits Homosexual or Bisexual. A nationwide Office of National Statistics survey has shed light on the true number of homosexual Britons. The survey found that 1.5 percent of men say they are homosexual, 0.7 percent of women say they are lesbian, and 0.4 percent identify as bisexual. The findings of the survey contradict the widely held belief that 10 percent of the population is homosexual. Read more here.

Marriage Related

Northern Irish Assembly Rejects Same-sex Marriage Motion. Had the measure passed, it wouldn’t have changed the law, but would have pressured the administration to examine the issue. Read more here.

Black Faith Leaders Announce Opposition to Obama’s Same-sex Marriage Policies.
A group of African-American pastors who oppose Obama’s policies that favor same-sex marriage are hoping to sway 25 percent of those who voted for the current U.S. president four years ago. The group is targeting voters in major swing states. In 2008, 70 percent of African Americans voted to ban same-sex marriage in California and also voted for President Obama. Read more here.

Consequences of Legalized Same-sex Marriage in Canada Detailed. Speakers from Canada spoke at a seminar in Minnesota, where a marriage amendment is on the ballot, explaining how same-sex marriage has radically transformed that country. One result of the Canadian legislation is that Canadian parents of elementary school children cannot remove them from instruction about same-sex relationships. Read more here.

Children Called “Nazis” for Opposing Same-sex Marriage. A senior official of the Roman Catholic Church revealed in a speech delivered in Brussels that even young children who support traditional marriage are being bullied by other children who are branding them as “Nazis” and “bigots” for opposing same-sex marriage. John Deighan said his own child has been the target of such bullying. Read more here.

News Items of General Interest

Study Finds Religious Freedom Being Stifled Around the Globe. The study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that in a one-year period ending in mid-2010, 75 percent of the world’s population live in a country with high or very high governmental restrictions on religious beliefs or practices. Read more here.

Canada Supreme Court Rules in HIV Disclosure Law. The ruling states that individuals with a low HIV viral load who use a condom are not required to reveal their HIV status to sexual partners. The justices ruled 9-0 that disclosure of HIV-positive status was required only when transmission was “a realistic possibility.” Read more here.

UN Human Rights Council Uphold Traditional Values. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute reports that the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution put forward by Russia and co-sponsored by more than 60 UN member states that affirms a positive link between traditional values and human rights. The United States and the European were opposed to the resolution. Read more here.

Malaysian Court Rejects Transsexual Suit. The secular court rejected an effort by a number of transsexual men to overturn the provision of law that reflects Sharia law’s prohibition of Muslim men dressing in women’s clothing. Read more here.

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