A US Court of Appeals has upheld California’s ban on efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of minors.
Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that made California the first state in the US to outlaw “reparative” or “conversion therapy” for people under the age of 18 on the basis that these could cause significant harm.
Opponents of the law took the bill to court arguing that the state was interfering in the right of parents to choose how to bring up their children.
On Thursday, three judges of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected the application and said that the law was indeed legal.
“One could argue that children under the age of 18 are especially vulnerable with respect to sexual identity and that their parents’ judgment may be clouded by this emotionally charged issue as well,” said Judge Susan Graber in the ruling.
“Today the court made a powerful statement that California’s LGBT young people deserve to be protected from grave psychological abuse,” commented Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“The law will put an end to practices that have not only been debunked as junk science, but have been proven to have drastically negative effects on youth well-being,” he said.
Liberty Counsel, a Christian group that was behind the bid to reverse the law, said that it will ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case with a larger panel of judges or it will take the case to the US Supreme Court.
Despite all major medical and mental health organisations in America denouncing efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression, Liberty Counsel insisted that “there is absolutely no evidence that change therapy is harmful to children”.
Earlier this month, New Jersey become the second US state to ban conversion therapy for minors as a harmful practice.