New Mexico Legislature Sends Bill to Protect Youth from So-Called “Conversion Therapy” to Governor

by Nick Morrow

Today, HRC hailed the New Mexico legislature for passing a bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors.

Today, HRC hailed the New Mexico legislature for passing a bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors. After clearing the Senate last month, the bill, SB 121, passed through the House this week by a vote of 44-23 and will now head to the governor’s desk.

New Mexico is a majority-minority, primarily Catholic state, and would be the eighth jurisdiction in the nation, including the District of Columbia, to protect youth under the age of eighteen from the harmful and discredited  practice of conversion therapy by state-licensed mental health professionals. There are currently 19 other state legislatures considering similar legislation.

“As a survivor of conversion therapy that occurred here in New Mexico, it's been both challenging and gratifying to work to end this barbaric practice in my home state,” said Amber Royster, the Executive Director of Equality New Mexico. “I applaud our state legislature for choosing to protect New Mexico kids.”

“Conversion therapy is dangerous and inhumane, and HRC is very pleased to see New Mexico’s lawmakers stand up for the vulnerable children who could be subjected to this completely discredited practice,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Political. “This action sends a clear message to LGBTQ youth in New Mexico: you do not need fixing. We are grateful to Equality New Mexico and the lawmakers who championed this cause, and we hope the governor signs this bill into law as soon as possible.”

“I am proud of the New Mexico legislature,” said Senator Jacob Candelaria, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “We joined together, across party lines, to say loud and clear that every New Mexico child deserves to be protected from abuse, to be loved and celebrated for who they are, and for the simple truth that all of our kids are born perfect.”

“As a legislator and a high school teacher, I am pleased the New Mexico legislature voted overwhelmingly to send a message of acceptance to our children and youth,” said Rep. G. Andres Romero, one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and debunked 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 by every major medical and mental health organization for decades.

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. Use of these dangerous practices lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior, which is why they are universally criticized by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

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.

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