Supporters of controversial “gay conversion” therapy in the US state of New Jersey, are calling for a bill to ban it to be subject to a new Senate hearing.

The bill’s advocates have reiterated that it does not apply to religious institutions, or adults who wish to attempt “gay conversion” therapy.

It only applies to licensed counsellors including psychologists, social workers and therapists, from the practice of attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

Opponents to the bill at a State House news conference called the bill the “Jerry Sandusky Victimisation Act”, and claimed that many gay children are victims of sexual assault, but keeping them away from “gay cure” therapy would prevent them from reporting those crimes.

Jerry Sandusky is a convicted paedophile who was married to a woman. He was charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing at least eight young boys over the course of several years.

Many health organisations condemn the practice, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organisation.

Those opposed to it have agreed that it can cause serious and long-term harm.

The New Jersey Senate Health Committee in April passed legislation banning the practice with 7 votes to 1. It is set later in May to go to the full Senate for consideration.

In a statement shortly after the bill passed the Senate committee, Governor Chris Christie said that he did not agree with the controversial therapy.

A petition for the bill to pass has reached 115,000 signatures – started by a teenager who found fame from his school coming out video, which now has nearly two million hits.

Back in October 2012, the US state of California banned the practice of gay conversion therapy when used on minors – the first such legislation in the country.

In December a federal judge blocked the new law, which was set to go into effect in January, and then Governor Jerry Brown appealed to have the law come into effect. 

Governor Brown said in a statement that gay “conversion therapy” had “no basis in science or medicine,” and that it would be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery”.