The practice is considered dangerous and has been medically discredited

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Massachusetts on Monday became the 16th state to ban gay conversion therapy for minors.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill that bars health care providers from offering or promoting “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts with a patient who is less than 18 years of age,” according to the Massachusetts State House News Service.

The practice, which has taken place in the U.S. for over a century, is considered dangerous and has been medically discredited, but is still promoted within a number of fundamentalist Christian churches. The practice has also been compared to child abuse.

Over the decades, patients at conversion facilities have been subjected to a variety of methods to “cure” their homosexuality, including lobotomies, chemical castration, electric shock and nausea-inducing drugs given to them while watching same-sex pornography, according to Scientific American.

A 2018 UCLA survey, conducted by the Williams Institute — which specializes in gender identity law — found that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have participated in conversion therapy at some point in their lives.

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“Being LGBTQ is not a disease that requires a cure,” Arlene Isaacson, co-chair of the Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors, said in a statement last month, according to NBC Boston.

“These fraudulent treatments often lead patients to depression, substance abuse, self-harm and suicidality,” she continued.

The news station reported that Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith promised to fight the ban in court, saying the bill denies mental health treatment to “sexually confused” youth. The Massachusetts Family Institute also says the ban violates their free speech rights.

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