Assembly passes conversion therapy ban for minors

May 17, 2016

Mental health professionals would be banned from practicing conversion therapy with patients under the age of 18 for the purpose of changing their sexual orientation under a measure passed by the State Assembly.

The measure was announced by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

“Conversion therapy has profoundly negative consequences on our youth,” said Heastie. “Rather than shaming young people and making them feel as if who they are is an ailment that needs treating, we should be encouraging them to embrace their identity so they can become healthy and happy adults.”

“Treating sexual orientation as a choice or a mental illness adds to the stigma that already exists around being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” said Glick. “Conversion therapy is a disgraceful practice that only encourages self-loathing and has been proven to have extremely negative impacts on an individual’s mental health.”

In announcing the passage, the two noted that for nearly 40 years, the major professional associations for mental health practitioners and researchers have recognized that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming. Furthermore, research has shown that conversion therapy can cause critical health risks including confusion and depression, substance abuse and suicide.

In addition to banning the practice, the legislation would also require that any mental health professional that violates the ban be subject to professional misconduct and disciplinary action.

In February, Governor Cuomo announced a series of comprehensive agency regulations to prevent the practice. The regulations banned public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State, and also prohibited various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.