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Appeals court temporarily blocks California law banning "ex-gay" therapy

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday temporarily delayed the start date of a new California law that protects LGBT youth from therapists who try to change their sexual orientation despite warnings by medical experts that these discredited practices put youth at risk of serious harm.

The new law was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

Thes decision temporarily postpones that date until the court rules on the underlying appeal of a decision earlier this month by Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Judge Mueller denied a request by an anti-LGBT organization to stop the law from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit has put the case on a fast track and will rule on that appeal early next year.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sept. 29, 2012.

Judge Mueller earlier this month also granted a motion by EQCA to intervene in the lawsuit in order to defend the law alongside California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who represents the State of California defendants. Equality California is represented in the case by NCLR and the law firm of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.

"Every leading medical and mental health organization has warned therapists and parents that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression and suicide," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. "No young person should be subjected to these dangerous practices, and no licensed therapist should be permitted to engage in practices that cause such serious harm. We are pleased that this case is on a fast track so that this lifesaving law can take effect as soon as possible."

Equality California executive director John O’Connor concurred.

Equality California is proud to have sponsored this important law, which will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer engage in these dangerous and unethical practices. California regulates medical providers to protect consumers from all kinds of harmful and fraudulent practices. The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1172 based on the warnings of the country’s leading medical organizations that these archaic practices have no medical or scientific basis and put youth at risk of serious harms. We want every LGBT youth in this state to know that the law values their lives and protects them from this dangerous abuse," he said.