The New Jersey Assembly on Monday approved a bill which seeks to ban therapies that attempt to alter a minor's sexual orientation from gay to straight.

The bill cleared the chamber with a 56-14 vote with 7 abstentions. The measure now moves to the Senate, which is expected to take it up on Thursday.

The measure is sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who is openly gay and has raised two children with his partner of 31 years.

“I see it as a form of child abuse,” Eustace told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Being gay “is not an illness, so what are they fixing?”

The proposed legislation, which is modeled after California's law, would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with a minor.

“Studies and personal testimony have shown this practice creates irreparable harm on young people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality,” said Eustace. “Forcing someone to deny their innate feelings and their very existence has led to depression, suicidal tendencies and other untold harm. Leading psychological professionals agree that this practice has no place in legitimate mental health therapies. I hope New Jersey will join California in leading the way on standing up to this harmful practice.”

A second sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., noted that the practice has been condemned by the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

“All of the leading health associations in this country have discounted this practice in favor of positive reinforcements,” he said. “The benefits of the practice are unfounded and, in fact, it has proven to do more harm than good in many cases. Our youth should not be forced to undergo such clinically disparaged practices.”

The bill is being championed in the Senate by Senators Raymond Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Stephen Sweeney.