Trenton – In an effort to better protect residents from unsafe mental health practices, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Nia Gill and Senator Vin Gopal that would prohibit mental health professionals from attempting to change the sexual orientation of their adult patients.
“The dangers of attempts to change sexual orientation, such as conversion therapy or reparative therapy, are well documented. The American Psychological Association has ethically condemned these practices because being LGBTQ+ is not a mental disorder, and ‘conversion therapy’ is neither an effective nor psychologically sound treatment,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “The State of New Jersey already prohibits sexual orientation change efforts on patients under the age of 18 due to its harmful effects. Now we must completely prohibit this ineffective and harmful practice. All individuals should embrace their identity without the danger of damaging treatment by those who are supposed to be professionals.”
The bill, S-358, would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of their adult patients. Licensed professionals would include, but not be limited to, the following: psychiatrists, psychologists, professional counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychoanalysts, or any person who performs counseling as part of the person’s professional training for any of these professions.
“About 700,000 adults in the United States have been subject to harmful practices to change their sexual orientation, with approximately half of them experiencing it as adults,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “The side effects of these practices are already well known to be extremely destructive to an individual’s mental health, and we must do all that we can to ensure the safety of all residents. There is no reason why in 2022 these practices should continue to exist for anyone.”
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-2.