New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced new executive orders aimed at banning the controversial practice of so-called conversion therapy, which seeks to change people's gender identity and sexual orientation.
The measures announced by Cuomo include bans on public and private health care insurers from providing reimbursement for conversion therapy for people under 18. Additionally, no mental health facility licensed, funded, or operated by the state will be allowed to provide such therapy to minors.
"Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for," Cuomo said in a statement. "We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are."
Conversion therapy has been criticized as harmful by many of the country's top health bodies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.
A federal report released in October declared that such therapies "are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment.”
"Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming," Dr. Warren Seigel, chair of the New York State Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement supporting Cuomo's decision.
In a press release, the LGBT advocacy group Empire State Pride Agenda said Cuomo's announcement was a "victory."
"No longer will unscrupulous peddlers of this dangerous pseudoscience victimize LGBT youth in New York State," the group said. "LGBT youth will no longer be driven to suicide by abusive techniques intended to destroy their very identities."
In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin praised Cuomo as "one of the LGBT community's strongest allies."
In April, the White House indicated it supported a federal ban on conversion therapy.
Other states that have banned conversion therapy practices include Illinois, California, Oregon, and New Jersey, as well as Washington, D.C.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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