The U.S. Supreme Court has left intact California’s ban on “gay conversion” therapy aimed at turning minors (under age 18) away from homosexuality, rejecting a Christian minister’s challenge to the law asserting it violates religious rights.

The rebuff leaves intact a federal appeals court decision upholding California’s 2012 first-of-its-kind law. The measure prohibits the form of counseling known as “conversion therapy.”

The ban was challenged by three people, led by licensed therapist and minister Donald Welch, who said it interferes with their right to practice their religious beliefs.

California officials urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal, saying the law doesn’t restrict what religious leaders can say, except in the context of a state-licensed therapy session.

The law applies to licensed doctors, psychologists, family therapists and social workers, and it subjects violators to discipline by state licensing bodies. The law lets licensed providers refer minors to religious leaders.

California outlawed gay conversion therapy in 2012, calling it ineffective and harmful. New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and the District of Columbia have similar laws on the books, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Supreme Court turned away a challenge to New Jersey’s law in 2015.

Gay conversion therapy methods range from counseling, hypnosis and dating-skill training to aversive techniques that induce pain or electric shocks in response to same-sex erotic images, according to California officials. Such treatments stem from a belief that homosexuality is a mental illness, a view that has been discredited for decades, the state said in court papers.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has left intact California's ban on 'gay conversion' therapy aimed at turning minors (under age 18) away from homosexuality, rejecting a Christian minister's challenge to the law asserting it violates religious rights. The rebuff leaves intact a federal appeals court decision upholding California’s 2012 first-of-its-kind law....