The US state of New Jersey State Assembly on Monday approved a bill that would ban gay conversion therapy.
The bill passed by a 56-14 Assembly vote with seven abstentions. The state Senate will likely take it up Thursday.
A Senate panel advanced the measure in March after a debate about the practice and how much say the state should have in parents’ decisions on how to raise their children.
“The damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide,” said gay rights activist Ryan Kendall.
Kendall said at the March hearing that he was sent to reparative therapy at the age of 16.
“This must stop,” Kendall said. “We would not tolerate this type of practice for any other group in society. We would not send black children to racial conversion therapy, women to gender conversion therapy or Christians to Atheist conversion therapy.”
Jonathan Bier, an 18-year-old college student, said at the hearing that he was told he’d be kicked out of yeshiva if he didn’t undergo conversion therapy.
“The therapy involved my reading specific portions of the Bible over and over on a weekly basis for the year. I was told about the dangers of homosexuality – how it’s connected to disease, mental illness, a life of unhappiness,” Bier testified. “This hurt me deeply, to this day I’m still affected.”