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State senate approves ban on gay-conversion therapy

May 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The California state senate has approved a ban on a form of psychotherapy meant to turn gay people straight.

No matter how badly parents want to change their minor children's sexual orientation, they would not be able to use conversion therapy under one proposal in California just approved by the senate.

California moved a step closer to becoming the first state in the country to ban conversion therapies for teenagers. It's a controversial treatment where some people believe homosexuality is a mental disorder and gay people can be made straight.

It didn't work for Peter Drake.

"In fact, I only became more depressed. My sexual orientation didn't change at all," said Drake, a former therapy patient.

State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is leading the charge to ban this practice for kids after hearing heartbreaking stories of teens who developed more intense feelings of suicide after these therapy sessions.

They were often encouraged to play more sports or told repeatedly that there's something wrong with them.

The American Psychological Association says such treatments involve some risk and likely to be unsuccessful.

"It's not just that people are wasting their time and money on these therapies that don't work, it's that these therapies are dangerous," said Lieu.

The Pacific Justice Institute thinks it's wrong to ban conversion therapies. They point to the thousands from a group called Exodus International who now live heterosexual lives, many with spouses and kids, because of reparative therapy.

"To deny anyone in a free society the opportunity to have that counseling is an outrageous violation of not just of the Constitution, but of human rights and basic humanity," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute.

But Peter Drake thinks a ban on conversion therapies is best for kids.

"When I think about kids being told by their parents or other authority figures that they should go through this kind of therapy, and that it will fix them and that they're wrong in the first place, it's horrific," said Drake.

Some mental health professionals think the ban is so broad it would prevent them from counseling about sexuality in general. Senator Lieu says he would tighten the language of the bill as it makes its way through the Assembly.


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