The New York State Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill to prohibit licensed mental health professionals from practicing gay conversion therapy on minors.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to sign the bill this week, which would make New York the 15th state in addition to Washington, D.C., in the U.S. to ban the controversial practice. Other states that have done so include Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Hawaii.
“New York has a reputation for diversity and inclusion and the Assembly Majority is committed to maintaining that reputation and protecting the rights of others,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) in a statement. “Everyone has a right to live their life free from hostility and exclusion, and our youth deserve support in discovering their identity in a way that promotes happiness and positive mental health.”
Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D) said in a statement: “Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice. It is built on the denial of LGBTQ people’s basic humanity, jeopardizes young people’s mental health, and is a perversion of mental health professionals’ mission to help.”
The American Psychological Association in a 2009 report condemned conversion therapy, writing that it approaches “homosexuality as a mental disorder, a concept that has been rejected by the mental health professions for more than 35 years.” The Assembly’s statement on the bill cites the APA and notes that conversion or reparative therapy can “pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people ranging from confusion and depression, to substance abuse and suicide.”
The legislature also passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit “discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in considerations of employment, education, credit and housing.” It also adds a provision that offenses motivated by gender identity or expression could be prosecuted under an existing hate crimes statute.
Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried (D), who sponsored GENDA, said its passage was made possible by a new Democratic majority in the New York Senate.
“The Assembly has passed the bill 11 times, but the Senate’s Republican Majority refused to let the bill have a floor vote,” Gottfried said in a statement. “Today, the new Democratic Majority has joined us in protecting the rights of New Yorkers regardless of gender identity or expression.”
Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBTQ advocacy group, celebrated “a monumental day for fairness and equality across the Empire State.”
“Today’s historic action in New York is the result of years of hard work and it is a vivid illustration of the importance of electing pro-equality lawmakers,” Chad Griffin, the group’s president, said in a statement.