New Mexico Just Banned Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

The state outlawed health practitioners from trying to "treat" minors for homosexuality.

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Apr 7 2017, 10:07pm

Photo by Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour via Wikipedia

New Mexico became the seventh state in the US Friday to place a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors, officially prohibiting the controversial practice, AP reports.

Senate Bill 121, signed by Republican governor Susana Martinez, prohibits licensed doctors, nurses, psychologists, and other health practitioners from administering conversion therapy to those under 18. According to USA Today, the law would not apply to ministers or people who don't have a medical license. 

Gay conversion therapy covers a wide range of semi-psychoanalytic methods used to try to convince a person that they can rid themselves of homosexuality, often with a religious bent. A typical session might involve violent role-playing, shock therapy, or physical abuse, according to the New York Times and Huffington Post.

"This is an incredible victory for LGBTQ youth in New Mexico," Sarah Warbelow, the Human Rights Campaign's legal director, told LGBT Weekly. "No child should be subjected to this dangerous practice that amounts to nothing more than child abuse."

The American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and a host of other medical organizations have explicitly denounced gay conversion therapy. Aside from the fact that it treats homosexuality as if it were a "disease" that requires a "cure," conversion therapy is dangerous. Those subjected to it are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, and nearly six times as likely to report struggling with serious depression, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Minors are particularly vulnerable.

Jacob Candelaria, an openly gay New Mexico state senator who sponsored the bill, stressed to reporters that protecting children from abuse "transcends party labels and ideological differences." He also thanked victims of conversion therapy for sharing what they went through to muster support for the bill.

"Their stories did not fall on deaf ears," Candelaria told LGBT Weekly. "They turned their suffering into a force for good, and because of them, and for them, we have made history."

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.

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