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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill on Monday which will effectively ban the practice of attempting to ‘convert’ gay minors to straight.
The bill cited medical and psychiatric evidence that sexual orientation is genetic, rather than a choice an individual makes, in order to stop licensed therapists, counselors and social workers from trying to convert gay and lesbian youth, Reuters reports.
In reasoning related to this research, Christie stated that he signed the bill because "efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks, including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts."
According to The Associated Press, gay rights activists are happy with the ban, but still believe more can be done.
While Christie is more accepting than other Catholic Republicans, he still does not support gay marriage and has vetoed gay marriage legislation in the past. Troy Stevenson, executive director of N.J.’s largest gay rights groups, Garden State Equality, stated that while signing this bill was a step in the right direction, "It is our truest hope that the governor will realize […] that the best way to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth are protected from the abuse of being ostracized is to provide them with equality."
Image: Bob Jagendorf/Wikimedia Commons