Today, New Jersey became the second state to outlaw gay conversion therapy, second behind the state of California, which banned the therapy in August 2012. The treatment has been used by some mental health professionals to transform LGBT individuals' #39;s sexual orientation from gay to heterosexual. The New Jersey bill, signed by Governor Chris Christie earlier today, prohibits licensed therapists from using conversion therapy with LGBT teenagers.
Although conversion therapy camps have been portrayed in a humorous way in LGBT movies such as "But I'm a Cheerleader," the methods and consequences of this type of therapy can have dire and lethal effects.
According to the American Psychiatric Association's Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies), "The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."
Conversion Therapy has been linked with suicide, social withdrawal, lowered self-esteem, substance use, and depression in LGBT teenagers, a major impetus in Governor Christie's decision to sign the bill.
“I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate,” said Christie, as stated on www.abcnews.go.com.
The elimination of conversion therapy in New Jersey is a monumental victory for the LGBT population. In its most severe form, conversion therapy is still being practiced in Ecuador. Through the employment of lesbian torture clinics, lesbians are subjected to starvation and physical and psychological assault, such as having urine thrown on them and rape. Some methods practiced in the United States include being asked to strip naked and hit effigies of mothers with baseball bats and electric shock treatment, as stated in an article by Angela Delli Santi on www.huffingtonpost.com.
With the recent passage of anti-gay legislation, such as Russia's new "Family Values Bill" enacted this past June, fighting LGBT persecution and discrimination is even more important. Under the Russian "Family Values Bill," any individual who disseminates LGBT information to minors, hold gay pride events, or advocates for any type of LGBT rights will be fined.
What are we doing to protect LGBT rights? 48 states still allow gay conversion therapy, too high of a number for a country that prides itself on its diversity and equal rights.
Readers, how do you feel about gay conversion therapy? Please state your view with a comment below.