US: New Jersey Governor announces opposition to ‘gay cure’ therapy

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The Governor or New Jersey has official announced his opposition to gay conversion therapy, after previously saying he had been undecided on the issue.

In a statement today, Governor Chris Christie said that he did not agree with the controversial therapy, reports ABC news.

He said earlier this week that if the question were to come to his desk in New Jersey, he wasn’t sure if he would sign the legislation banning the practice or not.

“Governor Christie does not believe in conversion therapy,” spokesman Kevin Roberts said in the statement. “There is no mistaking his point of view on this when you look at his own prior statements where he makes clear that people’s sexual orientation is determined at birth.”

The New Jersey Senate Health Committee on Monday passed legislation banning the practice.

Many health organisations condemn the practice, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organisation.

Those opposed to it have agreed that it can cause serious and long-term harm.

On Wednesday, Governor Christie said that he did not know if he would sign the bill into law, if it came to his desk. He said: “I’m of two minds just on this stuff in general. Number one, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children.”

“Generally, philosophically, on bills that restrict parents’ ability to make decisions on how to care for their children, I’m generally a skeptic of those bills. Now, there can always be exceptions to those rules and this bill may be one of them.”

Reacting to his initial undecided response on the issue, Democrat Barbara Buono, who is a challenger in Senator Christie’s reelection bid said his stance was “disgusting”, going on to say that “gay children don’t need to be ‘cured.’”

“It’s an outrageous practice and it has no place in New Jersey,” Buono said in a statement. “That Governor Christie would dignify this shameful practice is disgusting. I urge all New Jerseyans who value equality to speak out and make clear to Governor Christie that his intolerance has no place in our state.”

Governor Christie, who is rumoured to have 2016 president aspirations, has in the past stated his opposition to equal marriage.

In February, Democrats in the New Jersey legislature said they would attempt to override Governor Chris Christie’s equal marriage veto from last year, and have now agreed to put the question of marriage equality to voters in November, if they cannot override it.

Back in October 2012, the US state of California banned the practice of gay conversion therapy when used on minors – the first such legislation in the country.

In December a federal judge blocked the new law, which was set to go into effect in January, and then Governor Jerry Brown appealed to have the law come into effect. 

Governor Brown said in a statement that gay “conversion therapy” had “no basis in science or medicine,” and that it would be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery”.

Last week, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notified the public that it had revoked the tax-exempt status for the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which aims to “cure” people of “unwanted homosexuality”.