Calif. considers repealing law to study, cure gays

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers narrowly advanced a bill Tuesday that would repeal a state law designed to find the causes and cures of homosexuality.

The law, written in 1950, classifies homosexuals as "sexual deviants" and requires the state Department of Mental Health to conduct research on "deviations conducive to sex crimes against children." The research would be used to help identify potential sex offenders.

The bill moved out of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on a 4-0 vote, with one Democrat and two Republican members abstaining from voting. They said the law's reference to homosexuality should be removed but that they want the state to continue researching sex crimes.

California put the law on the books as a response to public outcry after a series of sex crimes in Los Angeles, which included the rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl. The murderer, who openly confessed his crime, was not gay.

"Even then, there was no legal justification to say that gay people needed to be understood and cured in the exact same way as sexual predators who rape and kill children," said Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, who sponsored the bill.

"For us to leave it there would be wrong," she said.

Lowenthal said California has not conducted research into homosexuality for decades, but did release two reports that examined hormone levels, physical characteristics and parental relationships of its subjects.

The American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder until 1973.

"This code simply mischaracterizes and institutes bigotry against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community," said Mario Guerrero, a director of Equality California, a gay-rights group.


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