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New Jersey bans "ex-gay" therapy for minors

TRENTON, N.J. -- Republican Gov. Chris Christie today signed into law a bill that bans "ex-gay" therapy for minors. New Jersey joins California as the first two states to outlaw the controversial program also known as conversion or reparative therapy.

"I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law," Christie said.

"Ex-gay" therapy is considered junk science because there is zero evidence that it works. Even Exodus International, which ran conversion therapy programs for decades, has acknowledged that the technique does not work and has apologized for the untold harm done to tens of thousands of teenagers.

"There is no greater achievement than helping to stop the abuse of our youth," said Troy Stevenson, Garden State Equality executive director. "Today's Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) ban will do just that. It will protect young people from being abused by those they should trust the most, their parents and their doctors. Garden State Equality thanks Assemblyman Tim Eustace and Senator Raymond Lesniak for championing this law."

Wayne Besen, head of Truth Wins Out, was among the experts who testified in favor of the ban.

"New Jersey's LGBT youth are safer today because an abusive practice has been banned that destroys families and shatters lives," Besen said. "The New Jersey law gives tremendous momentum for moving forward with new efforts to protect LGBT youth across the nation. We must remember that conversion therapy isn't a legitimate form of therapy, but a political marketing gimmick designed to demonize and stigmatize LGBT people. This is why it is rejected by every respected mainstream medical and mental health association in America."

Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, applauded the law.

Gov. Christie signing AB 3371 into law was the culmination of a bi-partisan effort to put New Jersey’s children first,” Griffin said. “Today is a true example of leaving politics out of the child welfare debate. We thank Gov. Christie and members of the state legislature on both sides of the aisle. We call on all states to follow the lead of California and New Jersey in protecting all young people.”

"LGBT youth in New Jersey will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being,” said Jeff Krehely, HRC Foundation vice president. “We will continue our fight against this kind of child abuse, which has been deemed harmful to children by all major mental health, medical, and child welfare organizations."

HRC and Garden State Equality played an integral role in passing AB 3371, including providing technical assistance to the bill’s sponsors. HRC State Legislative Director Sarah Warbelow testified on the bill.

Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression have been debunked as junk science, and have also been proven harmful to children and adults. All major medical and mental health organizations have denounced the practice including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization. Learn more HERE.