By Sarah Barchus
California became the first state to ban psychotherapy used to "overcome" homosexuality in teenagers when Governor Gerry Brown signed the bill Saturday, The New York Times reported.
The law effective January 1 will not allow mental health professionals to use the controversial psychotherapy, called reparative or conversion therapy, on anyone under 18, the Pioneer Press reported.
In reparative therapy, mental health professionals encourage people to link homosexual thoughts to negative, emotional childhood experiences. Therapists acknowledge that total "cures" are rare, but say that proper treatment has successfully reduced homosexual attraction in thousands of patients, The New York Times reported.
But Brown said the treatments "have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery," the Pioneer Press reported.
Some former patients forced into therapy by their parents also supported the ban and described harmful emotional experiences they suffered after they found they couldn't or didn't want to change, The New York Times reported.
State Senator Ted Lieu sponsored the bill and said it would protect children from psychological abuse, the Pioneer press reported.
However, the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality said Lieu's claims were political rather than scientific and the law is "legislative overreach," the Pioneer Press reported. One member of the association, licensed family therapist David H. Pickup of Glendale, said the law would cause harm to those who want and need the therapy, The New York Times reported.
Some therapists and conservative religious leaders said the law violates free choice and are concerned that those seeking treatment will turn to untrained amateurs for help, The New York Times reported.
Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group said other states such as New Jersey are discussing banning reparative therapy for teenagers, the New York Times reported.