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A bill that prohibits a therapy that aims to reverse homosexuality in children and adolescents passed the California Senate, moving the state one step closer to becoming the first in the nation to ban the controversial treatment.
The 23 to 13 vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate marked a major victory for gay rights advocates, who say the therapy has no medical basis because homosexuality is a disorder, and that treatment can cause depression, lead to substance abuse and suicide.
The bill still must be approved by the State Assembly and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat before it can become law. It is expected to be adopted by the Assembly, also controlled by Democrats, within a month.
"These therapies are dangerous," said Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, who sponsored the bill in the Senate before the vote, citing the case of Ryan Kendall, an outspoken advocate for gay rights, who underwent the therapy as a child.
"Ryan was told that being gay made God cry," said Lieu. "He testified that during 10 years of his life, he wanted to commit suicide. He has not done that and is now speaking out against this type of therapy," he also said.
The Pan American Health Organization, a division of the World Health Organization, said earlier this month that the therapy, which promises to "cure" people with no heterosexual sexual orientation, has no medical justification and represents "a serious threat to the health and welfare of the affected people.”
Equality California, a civil rights group, co-sponsored the bill, and welcomed its passage.