State Senate bill to ban conversion therapy passes first hurdle in Trenton

994
Princeton Pro Musica Richardson 2012

Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate Health Committee approved a bill that proposes to ban psychiatrists, social workers and therapists from “engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.” The bill attempts to ban anti-gay “conversion therapy.” It passed with a vote of 7-1 with two abstentions.

New Jersey High School student Jacob Rudolph, was in attendance as well as members from Garden State Equality and other LGBT family groups throughout the state. Rudolph’s YouTube video went viral earlier this year and has over 100,000 signatures asking that “conversion therapy” to be banned everywhere. California passed a similar ban on conversion therapy for minors in September, but that action is being appealed by anti-gay groups currently.

The committee heard from many victims of the conversion therapy practice in Trenton on Monday. Brielle Sophia Goldani, a transgender woman forced to undergo conversion therapy at a camp in Ohio spoke. She had tried to kill herself three times after the therapy. Troy Stevenson, the new executive director for GSE spoke. His friend in Oklahoma committed suicide after his parents sent him to a similar camp. Jonathan Bier, an 18-year-old college student was threatened with expulsion from his yeshiva if he didn’t undergo the therapy. He spoke at length during the hearing.

New Jersey State Assemblyman Tim Eustace, said reparative therapy “constitutes child abuse.” He introduced the bill after “several constituents — young people — came to our office complaining that this still exists.” Eustace is the main sponsor and one of only two openly gay State Assembly members.

The practice of conversion therapy gained added attention last November when the Jersey City based JONAH organization “Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing” was sued by four men. The men said the conversion therapy group used psychological abuse and consumer fraud against them.

New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono said in response to Troy Stevenson of GSE’s testimony yesterday, “I can’t believe we still have to talk about this in the year 2013.” Bouno is the Democratic candidate running against the popular and incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie in November. 

The bill will advance to the full Senate for expected approval.

Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate Health Committee approved a bill that proposes to ban psychiatrists, social workers and therapists from “engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.” The bill attempts to ban anti-gay “conversion therapy.” It passed with a vote of 7-1 with two abstentions.