The New York State Assembly approved legislation Monday that would prohibit health care professionals in the state from practicing sexual orientation change efforts — or gay conversion therapy — on children under the age of 18.
Assembly lawmakers voted 86-28 to pass the bill, sending it to the State Senate for consideration with the clock ticking down on the legislative session ending Thursday.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, an out gay lawmaker and sponsor of the ban in the Senate applauded the Assembly’s vote, saying in a statement it brings New York one step closer to “protecting our kids from being subject to this dangerous practice and their parents from being victims of a proven scam.”
“Being an LGBT young person isn’t an illness that needs to be cured,” he said. “Banning conservation therapy is a nonpartisan issue that should receive full consideration by my colleagues in the Senate.”
The legislation would add to existing state law dealing with professional misconduct and would specifically prohibit licensed health professionals from performing sexual orientation change efforts on patients under the age of 18.
Proponents of the bill, such as LGBT advocates from Empire State Pride Agenda, said they were thrilled at the bill’s passage in the Assembly and are hopeful it will be signed into law this year.
“We call on the New York State Senate to follow the example of their Assembly colleagues, as well as leaders in New Jersey and California, the medical community, and public opinion, by passing this bill now so we can put it on Governor Cuomo’s desk for a signature,” Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer said in a statement. “This issue is non-partisan; we’re all in agreement that harming LGBT youth is unacceptable and we must put an end to this damaging and discredited practice. We cannot let another day go by where our youngest New Yorkers are vulnerable to this avoidable harm.”
In recent years, therapy attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation has been condemned or criticized by leading psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, which concluded that “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.”
“The most important fact about these ‘therapies’ is that they are based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions,” the APA said.
Providers who violate the law could face censure, suspension or revocation of their license, and a possible civil penalty, according to Hoylman.
Similar conversion therapy bans have been approved in California and New Jersey, but a proposed ban was voted down by Illinois lawmakers in April.
A message was left in Gov. Cuomo’s press office seeking comment on the bill.
In response to an earlier request for comment on the ban, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi told BuzzFeed, “Gay conversion therapy is a discredited and outrageous practice that has no place in New York.”
Cuomo plans to sign the bill into law pending Senate approval, he said.