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NM Senate Passes Legislation to Protect LGBTQ Youth From Abusive Practice of Conversion Therapy

February 16, 2017

SANTA FE -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, and Equality New Mexico hailed a vote by the New Mexico Senate passing SB 121, legislation that would protect LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and abusive practice of “conversion therapy.”

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

“It's a great day for LGBTQ New Mexicans, and especially LGBTQ young people,” said Equality New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster. “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. We applaud Sen. Jacob Candelaria for his steadfast leadership, and the New Mexico State Senate for choosing to #ProtectNMKids.”

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected for decades by major medical and mental health organization.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy.​ California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, New York and Washington, D.C. currently have laws or regulations ​protecting LGBTQ minors from the dangerous practice.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

In February 2016, the Human Rights Campaign, NCLR, and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a consumer fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against People Can Change, a major provider of conversion therapy. The complaint alleges that People Can Change’s advertisements and business practices which claim they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity constitute deceptive, false, and misleading practices and can cause serious harm to consumers, all in direct violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The complaint urges the FTC to take enforcement action to stop these deceptive practices and investigate all practitioners making similar claims.

More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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