SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court is preparing to hear arguments on whether a first-of-its-kind law that prohibits licensed mental health professionals in California from offering therapies aimed at making gay and lesbian teenagers straight violates the civil rights of practitioners and parents.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled Wednesday to take up two legal challenges to the ban on sexual orientation change efforts that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall. It was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1, but was put on hold pending resolution of the court cases.

Opponents say the ban infringes on their free speech, freedom of association and religious rights.

Supporters say the prohibition is necessary to protect minors from a practice which has been questioned by major mental health professional associations.Associated Press

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