Licensed therapists in New Jersey are now banned from offering services to turn gay youth straight, according to a law signed this morning by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. California enacted a similar law last year.
The law bans so-called conversion therapy, which alleges that it is possible to change one’s sexual orientation through prayer or other means. The American Psychological Association and all major mental health organizations in the U.S. have condemned conversion therapy as ineffective at best. Some LGBT advocates liken such practices to human rights violations.
New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who is gay and sponsored the bill Christie signed this morning, called conversion therapy “an insidious form of child abuse,” according to the Associated Press.
Christie had indicated he felt noncommittal about signing the bill, which was set to become law even without his signature, but then had a slight change of heart. “Government should tread carefully into this area, and I do so here reluctantly,” he wrote in a letter accompanying the bill. “However…I believe that exposing children to these health risks [associated with conversion therapy] without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”