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N.J. senate panel advances bill to prohibit conversion therapy for gay youth

N.J. senate panel advances bill to prohibit conversion therapy for gay youth

TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey state Senate panel on Monday advanced a bill that would prohibit licensed therapists from performing controversial therapy aimed a converting minors from gay to heterosexual.

The Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee’s vote moves the bill to the full Senate. It came after a hearing where lawmakers heard from people who said they had been harmed by such therapies, including a woman who said she was subjected to electrical shocks.

The measure, S2278, is backed by the American Psychological Association’s research, and if passed, would prohibit counseling that seeks to change the sexual orientation for any person under the age of 18.

State Assemblyman Tim Eustace, an openly gay Democrat from Bergen County, is the Assembly’s lead sponsor the bill, and said the measure would ban licensed practitioners from performing the therapy on minors, even with parental permission.

But opponents told the committee the ban would infringe on parents’ ability to do what they think is best for their children.

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If passed, New Jersey would become the nation’s second state to impose limits on gay-to-straight “reparative” (or conversion) therapy.

Last year, the California state legislature passed a similar bill that was signed into law in September by Gov. Jerry Brown signed it in September.

Following months of legal maneuvers by both supporters and opponents, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency order last month putting the California law on hold until it can hear full arguments on the issue.

The law was set to take effect Jan. 1.

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