In a victory for LGBT equality, the US Supreme Court has indicated that a state can stop minors from undergoing gay “cure” therapies.
On Monday, the court announced that it would not hear an appeal in a case that sought to strike down New Jersey’s ban on the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy.
In August 2013, New Jersey became the second US state after California to outlaw “treating” anyone under the age of 18 for homosexuality or their gender identity as a harmful practice.
In December 2014, Washington D.C. also passed its own law against attempts to “cure” gay and lesbian youth.
The New Jersey ban was unsuccessfully challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. By refusing to hear the case, the court has in effect allowed the law to stand, strengthening efforts to enact similar bans in other states
The White House said last month that it “supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
Major medical and mental health organisations around the world – including The South African Society of Psychiatrists – have denounced efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression as ineffective and potentially harmful.
The Supreme Court was less progressive in another LGBT matter. It also declined to hear a case that concerned a jailed transgender woman who has sought transition-related treatment from the state.
A lower court had ruled that the state did not have to provide her with the treatment, and this decision will now stand.
The Human Rights Campaign commented that the “decision is unfortunate because it fails to recognise the right of transgender people to receive medically-necessary services while they are incarcerated, and therefore reliant on the state for appropriate healthcare.”
Transition-related healthcare is considered medically necessary by medical associations such as the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association of Transgender Healthcare.