A three-judge panel in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals has suspended the implementation of a new law banning therapists offering treatment to young gay people to turn themselves straight.
In September, campaigners and medical professionals welcomed California Governor Jerry Brown’s decision sign into law a ban on teenagers from accessing discredited treatments that seek to reject an LGBT identity.
The law, signed in by Governor Brown, was due to come into effect on 1 January 2013 and make California the first state to outlaw the practice for people under the age of 18 in America.
At the time, Governor Brown said that gay “conversion therapy” had “no basis in science or medicine,” and that it would be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery”.
Last night, the panel of federal judges said that the law could not go into effect until a full hearing to consider whether it is legal. The decision comes after an injunction by those who practise this type of therapy, claiming that it is a violation of the First Ammendment; a restriction on religious freedom.
Earlier this month, a judge said that three specific therapists who applied for an injunction could continue to offer the therapies to young people next year. At the time he dismissed claims that such therapies can put young gay people at risk of suicide or depression saying that such claims are from “questionable and scientifically incomplete studies.”
The law, SB1172 would have seen any licensed California counsellor disciplined if they offered reparative therapy to minors.
“Our clients are thrilled that this law has been blocked,” Mathew Staver an attorney with Liberty Counsel who represented several families and therapists who wish to cure young people of being gay. “It was an overreach by the legislation into the realm of private therapy.”
A spokesperson for the Californian Attorney General said: “California was correct to outlaw this unsound and harmful practice, and the attorney general will vigorously defend this law.”
The court has said that both sides have until mid-February to file their written submissions for the case.