The plaintiff claimed the case violated his free speech rights.
A federal judge in Maryland has dismissed the case of Christopher Doyle, a psychotherapist, who claimed that the state’s ban on gay ‘conversion’ therapy violated his rights to free speech and religious freedom.
The so-called therapy, which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association, refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.
However, the judge, Deborah Chasanow rejected the case, saying that the law didn’t prevent Doyle from expressing his personal view. Lawyers for Doyle, from the Liberty Counsel, have said they will appeal the ruling.
In a 25-page ruling, Judge Chasanow backed the legislation, saying that research and professional organisations all came to the same conclusion that the so-called therapy was harmful.
In her ruling, she said: “These sources indicate that conducting conversion therapy on minors could potentially harm their emotional and physical well-being and, thus, prohibiting the practice of conversion therapy on minors would abate the harmful outcomes caused by conversion therapy.”
She also wrote that Doyle had failed to come up with a viable alternative for minors who do not have the “capacity to consent to psychological treatment.”
Defendants in the case, named by Doyle, were the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan who signed the legislation in, and the state’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh. Raquel Coombs, a spokesperson from Frosh’s office said that gay ‘conversion’ therapy relied on “the false premise that an LGBTQ individual is broken and must be fixed.
“Advocates of this type of therapy are selling something that doesn’t make people’s lives better, [but] rather, as the court agreed, is actually harmful to minors.”
Maryland became the twelfth US state to ban gay ‘conversion’ therapy for minors last year.
Following the vote in favour of the ban, the Human Rights Campaign’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, JoDee Winterhof, said: “All children deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy.
“This dangerous and inhumane practice has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health organisation in the country. We thank the state legislators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth and now call on Governor Hogan to sign this crucially important legislation.”
Meanwhile, New York City may overturn its ban on the discredited practice, fearing that appeals may head to the Supreme Court, which could make a ruling that negatively affects the entirety of the LGBTQ community in America.
Corey Johnson, the Council Speaker, called the move a “painful decision” before adding: “After intense deliberation, the council concluded that it was best to take this drastic step.
“The courts have changed considerably over the last few years, and we cannot count on them to rule in favor of much-needed protections for the LGBTQ community. To be clear, this alleged therapy is barbaric and inhumane, but repealing this law seemed to be the best path forward.”