CalMatters: Emotional fight over conversion therapy: Should California limit services meant to turn gay people straight?
Choking up as he began to speak to a panel of fellow lawmakers, Assemblyman Evan Low paused to collect himself. The room had just quieted after a conservative advocate who opposed his bill heckled the committee—and Low—for not hearing his side out, causing a brief shouting match in the otherwise staid hearing room.
“It was very difficult to present this bill,” Low, a Democrat from Campbell who is gay, said once the ruckus died down. “Because when thinking about childhood and that it would not be okay to be yourself—you heard testimony about suicidal thoughts. I have also had that.”
This strikingly personal revelation reflects the emotional debate surrounding Low’s proposal to make California the first state in the country to outlaw the advertising and sale of sexual orientation change services—better known as “conversion therapy.”
On one side sit scientists and LGBTQ advocacy groups who say California must protect its citizens from a harmful, prejudice-driven practice. On the other are First Amendment purists and a group of religious conservatives who argue that a ban curtails personal liberty. At stake are questions about free speech, freedom of religion and the state’s duty to protect consumers from fraud.
The practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is opposed by leading medical groups such as the American Psychological Association and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which say it is ineffective and often harmful. It is embraced by some religious and conservative groups, such as the California Family Council and the Pacific Justice Institute, which say the therapy offers an option to people who believe homosexuality and being transgender are immoral.
Conversion therapies can include traditional talk-therapy as well as more extreme—and, medical groups say, damaging—methods. Some who have experienced them report being forced to ingest nausea-inducing drugs and being electroshocked while viewing homoerotic images, activities designed to condition a negative reaction to their homosexual feelings. Such reports led state Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat and a coauthor of the bill, to describe the therapy as “torture.” Although current techniques tend to be less extreme than those of the past, LGBTQ advocates say that they still perpetuate a view of homosexuality and being transgender as undesirable.
Read the entire article here: https://calmatters.org/articles/gay-conversion-therapy-california-bill/