New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will sign a bill today banning conversion therapy in the state, making it the second state after California to ban the practice by law, according to an Associated Press report.
Conversion therapy is a widely-criticized program in which therapists work to turn gay teenagers straight using questionable methods. During hearings on the proposed ban, lawmakers heard testimony from people who had undergone such therapy, including a girl who said she was given electroshock therapy and was given drugs to induce vomiting at the age of 14.
Last year, four men sued JONAH, a New Jersey provider of conversion therapy, accusing them of using dangerous and humiliating tactics to “cure” gay clients, including group sessions where they were made to stand nude in a circle with a counselor who was also naked. The men claim they were taunted and manipulated throughout the therapy.
Gay rights groups fight against the longstanding practice of conversion therapy because they say it damages young people and leads them to believe it is not acceptable to be who they are.
The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have long said that such therapy has no basis in scientific fact.
The NJ bill was passed in June with bipartisan support, but gay activists were unsure of what Christie would do.
In a note accompanying the bill, Christie stated that the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice, and that he himself believes that people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin, according to the AP report.
California was the first state to take a stand against conversion therapy after a law was adopted last year banning therapists from trying to change sexual orientation of minors, though it came under fire earlier this year when it was challenged as an infringement on free speech.
Jesse Farthing is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.