Massachusetts has banned gay conversion ‘therapy’ for minors.

On Monday night, Governor Charlie Baker signed Bill H.140 into law, blocking health care providers from conducting or promoting “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts with a patient who is less than 18 years of age”.

The bill previously passed in the Massachusetts House in March with an overwhelming majority; 147 voting in favour of the ban and 8 against it.

“We are grateful that MA will now protect young people from this fraudulent treatment which is both cruel and barbaric,” said Arline Isaacson, Co-Chair of The Massachusetts Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors.

The so-called therapy, which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association, refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.

A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts.

Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, praised Governor Baker for bringing an end to the “abusive practice” of gay conversion ‘therapy’ in Massachusetts.

“The Trevor Project applauds Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature for protecting youth in the Bay State from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” they said.

“Not only will their actions reduce harm to queer youth in the Bay state, but the clear, bipartisan support for this legislation sends a powerful message to lawmakers around the country that this abusive practice must end.”

Massachusetts is now the 16th US state to ban gay conversion ‘therapy’ for minors with a 17th law pending in Colorado.

Last month, US territory Puerto Rico ordered a ban, with Governor Ricardo Rosselló saying the practice “causes unnecessary harm and suffering” to LGBTQ people.