The court rejected the arguments that banning use of so-called conversion therapy violates freedom of speech or religion. The decision reaffirmed the right of the state to regulate medical professionals that they license.
Most LGBT groups have likened the practice of conversion therapy to torture.
Writing for the court, Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith held that “over the last few decades a number of well-known, reputable professional and scientific organizations have publicly condemned the practice of [sexual orientation change efforts], expressing serious concerns about its potential to inflict harm,” and that “[m]any such organizations have also concluded that there is no credible evidence that SOCE counseling is effective.”
“The court’s decision today is a major victory for the thousands of young people who will now be protected from these dangerous and horrific practices,” said Andrea Bowen, Garden State Equality’s executive director. “No one should subject minors to conversion therapy—least of all state-licensed clinicians responsible for the care and well-being of their patients.”
New Jersey Gov. Christie noted the “critical health risks” posed by conversion therapy, including “depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”