The New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill to ban licensed therapists from trying to convert gay minors into heterosexuals.

The idea of what is sometimes called "conversion therapy" has increasingly drawn criticism.

Gay rights groups say the practice is damaging to young people, but some social conservatives say the bill would infringe on the rights of parents to do what they think is best.

After it passed by a 56-14 Assembly vote with seven abstentions, the Senate will likely take it up Thursday.

Last year, California became the first state to ban the practice. But a judge halted implementation amid arguments about the law's constitutionality.

Last week, the leader of Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International apologized to the gay community for years of providing the counseling.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.