A bill that would ban so-called “reparative therapy”- therapy intended to “convert” gay men and women to be heterosexual- is headed to the New Jersey Senate floor. The ban would apply to children under 18. It already passed in the state Senate’s Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on a 7 to 1 vote in March.
The legislation emerges from a late 2012 lawsuit against the organization Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, which aims in part to assist gay Jewish men in obtaining so-called “reparative therapy.” The four plaintiffs in the case cite being asked to perform humiliating exercises as part of therapy, for example exposing their genitals to a counselor. The lawsuit and the testimony of many other gay and transgender individuals suggests that such “reparative therapy” is harmful to psychological well-being. A former advocate of the practice, Dr. Robert Spitzer, reversed his position in May 2012. He issued an apology to the LGBT community and renounced such practices as “a waste of time and energy.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s position on this issue is unknown. According to the New York Times, Christie “does not believe in conversion therapy,” but is also “hesitant to sign a bill that effectively tells parents what they can and can’t do.”