On April 7th, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez signed a bill into law that bans the use of conversion therapy on minors. This law forbids doctors, nurses, or licensed therapists from trying to alter a patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity. New Mexico is the seventh state to pass such a law.
Conversion therapy uses a wide range of methods to attempt to rid patients of homosexuality, such as physical abuse, electroshock therapy, and castration, according to the New York Times. It is often religious in nature and “often frame[s] the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure (American Psychological Association).” This often leads to mental issues down the road, such as anxiety, depression, drug use, and suicide. According to the Human Rights Campaign, young people who have felt rejection from their families and society are eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
Today, the HRC is celebrating this triumph. “This is an incredible victory for LGBT youth in New Mexico,” HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow told LGBT Weekly. “No child should be subjected to this dangerous practice that amounts to nothing more than child abuse. By signing this crucially important legislation into law, Governor Martinez is standing up for vulnerable youth who deserve to be loved and supported for who they are.”
Unfortunately, this law does not extend to ministers, clergy, or anyone without a medical license; however, it is still a major victory for the LGBT community. As of today, seven states have legislature banning conversion therapy for minors: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, New York, and New Mexico. The District of Columbia has also passed these laws. If your state has not passed laws regulating conversion therapy, there are a few ways you can help. You can contact your Senator, either by telephone or mail, and you can ally with organizations who support the cause, such as the Human Rights Campaign (more information on lobbying here).