Lawsuit Filed to Fight California Gay Conversion Therapy Ban

The lawsuit challenges the nation's first law that prohibits so-called “reparative” or conversion therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation

A Christian legal group has filed a lawsuit against a California law that prohibits so-called conversion therapy.

The Pacific Justice Institute, a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties, filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Sacramento on Monday.

The group argues the law, which bans the practice of converting gays to straights, violates First Amendment and privacy rights.

“This new law is an outrageous violation of the fundamental First Amendment and privacy rights of young people,” Brad Dacus, the president of the Pacific Justice Institute, told NBC4 by phone. “We hope to accomplish the protection and defense of the civil rights of young people.”

California became the first state in the nation to ban so-called “reparative” or conversion therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation.

Under the terms of a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, therapists who use such techniques on children and teens will face disciplinary action from the agencies that license them.

The therapies are based on the idea that sexual orientation can be changed, and that feelings of attraction for someone of the same sex is the result of childhood trauma. They use a variety of techniques, including aversion training, persuasion and pornography to convince gay teens and others that they can become straight. The law is set to go into effect Jan. 1.

Sen. Ted. W. Lieu, the sponsor of the bill, SB 1172, called the lawsuit “fiction.”

“It is a good read but from any reasonable legal standard, the lawsuit is frivolous,” said Lieu, D-Torrance, a former prosecutor, in a statement. “Under the plaintiffs' argument, the First Amendment would shield therapists and psychiatrists from medical malpractice and psychological abuse claims simply because they use speech in practicing their medicine. That is a novel and frivolous view of the First Amendment.”

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