California looks to ban ‘pray the gay away’ therapy

A new bill wants to ban ‘conversion therapy’

by Emma Teitel

You can’t ‘pray the gay away’

Peter DaSilva/The New York Times

California is in the gay rights spotlight once again, with a first-of-its kind ban on “conversion therapy” for gay youth. The bill, which is before final committee, is necessary, says its sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu, because the therapy—popular with religious organizations like Exodus International and Manifested Glory Ministries—can lead to depression, guilt, even suicide. “Pray the gay away,” counselling and exorcisms are among therapy’s techniques. It has been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association. Some parents who enroll their kids in conversion therapy are “well meaning,” says Rebekah Orr, of Equality California, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, “but don’t know how psychologically damaging it is.”

Those in the so-called “ex-gay movement,” however, contend that gay people can purge themselves of their homosexuality. If passed, the bill would also force adults seeking conversion therapy to sign a release form confirming that they understand the potential psychological risks involved. “With conversion therapy, there are no happy endings,” says Wayne Besin, executive director of the U.S. gay rights group Truth Wins Out. “It’s an experiment that failed and left a trail of victims.”




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California looks to ban ‘pray the gay away’ therapy

  1. I guess it’s too late to talk about what’s wrong with using the power of the state/government to shape society in a manner consistent one’s own beliefs. That horse is already out of the barn. But to be fair, as governments swing from left to right, back and forth, everyone gets a crack at using government’s coercive powers to implement their own narrow agenda.

    My two cents: spread the word that “pray the gay away” is pure unadulterated crap. You don’t need another law to do that. You just need to mobilize public opinion.

    • The problem with your approach is that this “therapy” is often inflicted on children who cannot opt out by religious parents who are convinced that it is effective. Unfortunately, these people will never be swayed by public opinion or science, because their religious beliefs prevent them from considering any viewpoint other than the one espoused by their church.

      The problem with this law is that it will actually not do what folks believe, since it only applies to state-licensed therapists. Often, reparative “therapy” is performed by members of the church or by laypeople who have no actual training in any sort of psychological field (never mind having any kind of certification).

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