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New Mexico Senate votes to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy

Senator Jacob Candelaria, who is gay, has led efforts to ban conversion therapy in the state

New Mexico Senate votes to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy
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Senator Jacob Candelaria has led efforts to ban conversion therapy

The Senate in New Mexico voted yesterday to ban so-called conversion therapy for gay, bisexual and transgender people. The vote in favor of Senate Bill 121 (SB121) was a convincing 32-6.

The legislation will now be forwarded to the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Democrats (38 Democrats against 32 Republicans).

If passed, it will mean that any doctor, psychologist or other health professional who offers and conducts such an attempt at therapy can lose their license.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque), who is himself gay.

He said ahead of the vote, ‘When you’re a young Hispanic Catholic kid growing up in Albuquerque and folks use some horrible words to describe you, both to your face and behind your back … that hurts. That is abuse. And I hope we don’t adopt the assumption that the only form of abuse is physical abuse.’

He said conversion therapy must join other so-called medical treatments that the state has banned for being ‘ harmful or deemed to be not beneficial.’

‘Conversion therapy is abuse’

The vote was welcomed by LGBTI advocates.

Equality New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster, said in a statement, ‘It’s a great day for LGBTQ New Mexicans, and especially LGBTQ young people.

‘Unequivocally, conversion therapy is abuse. When we reduce the harm and trauma experienced by young people, we create the opportunity for healthier and more resilient communities.’

Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director with HRC, said, ‘No child should ever be subjected to the incredibly dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy.

‘This crucially important legislation will help protect LGBTQ youth in New Mexico from a pseudoscience denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association.

‘For the sake of some of the state’s most vulnerable youth, the New Mexico House of Representatives should quickly pass this legislation and help end this barbaric form of child abuse.’

Conversion therapy has already been banned in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, New York and Washington DC.


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