A federal appeals court unanimously upheld a Washington state law prohibiting LGBT conversion therapy on minors, rejecting a Christian therapist’s claims that the ban violated his free speech rights to counsel patients with unwanted same-sex attraction. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Washington’s conversion therapy ban for LGBT minors is constitutional.
Circuit Judge Ronald Gould authored the panel opinion, stating that the law “does not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendments” because the state has the power to regulate medical practices.
“States do not lose the power to regulate the safety of medical treatments performed under the authority of a state license merely because those treatments are implemented through speech rather than through scalpel,” wrote Gould, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton.
Gould wrote that state law “does not prevent health care providers from communicating with the public about conversion therapy; expressing their personal views to patients (including minors) about conversion therapy, sexual orientation, or gender identity; practicing conversion therapy on patients over 18 years old; or referring minors seeking conversion therapy to counselors practicing ‘under the auspices of a religious organization’ or health providers in other states.”