ASBURY PARK, N.J. — A bill outlawing “reparative” therapy for gays under age 18 is heading to the New Jersey Senate for a vote after the state’s Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee passed it by a 7-1 vote last month, USA Today reported.
The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association are among the national organizations that either oppose or warn against reparative therapy. No major medical organization endorses the idea that being gay or lesbian is abnormal or a mental disorder that can be changed or suppressed, the article said.
New Jersey’s Senate committee hearing comes four months after the Southern Poverty Law Center sued Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, in Jersey City, on behalf of four men who claimed to have gone through rituals to rid them of their homosexuality. The rituals included “bodywork,” or being forced to undress and show their genitals to a counselor, Jewish Queer Youth co-executive director Mordechai Levovitz testified according to USA Today’s article.
California passed a bill banning conversion therapy last year, but an appeals court ruled the ban violates the First Amendment.
“It’s a culture war issue,” Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist, told USA Today. Reparative therapy, he said, is “a niche market that really takes advantage of unhappy people.”