The state of California has passed a groundbreaking law that bars so-called ex-gay or reparative therapy, used in an attempt to turn gay people straight, for minors.

Under the law, those under the age of 18 are not allowed to undergo this kind of therapy, which has been widely condemned as both ineffective and potentially harmful.

The state assembly voted 52 for and 21 against. Republicans and religious groups opposed the bill on the basis that it stops parents from making a decision on the matter for their children.

“The entire house of medicine has rejected this phony and sham therapy. It really is junk science,’’ Senator Ted Lieutold, who introduced the bill, told the assembly.

“The American Psychiatric Association says it poses great risk to individuals including feelings of guilt, self-hatred, shame. Some people commit suicide having gone through this.’’

The law now goes to Governor Jerry Brown to either approve or reject it. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT civil rights organisation in the US, sent a letter to Brown urging him to sign the bill.

“Governor Brown has an historic opportunity to protect California’s children while embracing science by banning dangerous so-called reparative therapy,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“LGBT youth have too many things to worry about in today’s society. It’s time to ban reparative therapy,” he added.

The American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organisation have also all denounced reparative therapy.

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