A bill that would prohibit licensed therapists from performing conversion therapy – meant to turn gay and lesbian minors straight – passed the California State Senate Wednesday.
The controversial methods have drawn the ire of gay rights groups and starkly different interpretations from the men and women who have experienced the program.
Jerome Reiter said he knew he was gay since he was a teenager, but “conversion therapy” practitioners tried to convince him otherwise.
“They compare you to every sort of horrible person, you know, bestiality and incest and polygamy, and they say these horrible things to you as a young kid and you think, ‘What’s wrong with me? I don’t want to be like this, but there must be something wrong with me, I must be broken,’” Reiter said. “But of course, I wasn’t broken. I was just different.”
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Senate Bill 1172 is sponsored by Equality California, a gay rights organization which has launched a public campaign against conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy.
The group argues that the methods could lead to depression and suicide among gay people.
“Reparative therapy is neither,” Reiter said. “It doesn’t repair anyone because you’re not broken, and it’s not therapy because every professional therapist organization says it doesn’t need to be done that way.”
Some opponents contend that bill will accomplish the opposite of its intended purpose.
Representative of national association of research and therapy of homosexuality.
David Pickup, with the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, said his experience with conversion therapy showed him a way to “help kids get down to their true self.”
“I used to be extraordinarily depressed, clinically depressed twice; full of anxiety, didn’t know what to do with my homosexual feelings and reparative therapy helped save my life,” Pickup said.
From the senate, the bill moves to the state assembly and then to Governor Jerry Brown, who Equality California expects to sign the measure.