LGBT minors in California will continue to be protected from “conversion therapy” after the US Supreme Court rejected an attempt to overturn a ban on the dangerous practice.
The restriction bars mental health professionals, including counsellors, psychologists and social workers, in the state from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of those under the age of 18.
On Monday, the court announced that it would not hear a case that challenged the 2012 law. Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said this was “good news” for young LGBT youth.
“Homosexuality is not a condition that needs curing,” stated Zbur. “However, we do know that the practice of trying to change sexual orientation not only doesn’t work, but puts vulnerable LGBT young people at risk of depression, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide.”
Donald Welch, an evangelical minister and family therapist, and others had sued the state of California, claiming that the ban was unconstitutional and violated their freedom to practice their religion.
Their case was rejected in October by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs then took the complaint to the Supreme Court, which has now effectively brought the matter to a close.
In May 2015, the US Supreme Court also refused to hear a case that challenged a similar ban in the state of New Jersey. Activists are now working to pass the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention bill in Congress to further restrict conversion therapy across the country.
In December, Malta became the first nation to outlaw trying to change LGBT people by passing a law that criminalises conversion therapy as a “deceptive and harmful” act or practice.
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.