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Cuomo Bans Conversion Therapy in NY

Conversion therapy has been banned in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)
February 9. 2016
Conversion therapy has been banned in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK - Governor Cuomo on Saturday broke new ground by announcing regulations to effectively ban so-called "conversion therapy" in New York State. The move makes New York the first state in the country to use regulations to end practices that claim to be able to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Xavier Persad, legislative council of the Human Rights Campaign, says the impact of conversion therapy on LGBT youth can be devastating.

"This practice has been linked to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior," he says.

Conversion therapy has been banned legislatively in four states and the District of Columbia.

The new regulations Cuomo announced would ban public and private health insurers from covering the practice. According to Persad, they will also prohibit state licensed or funded facilities from using the therapy on minors.

"It's a multi-pronged approach that I think does everything that can be done from the executive level," says Persad. "That, taken together, is incredibly effective, but does not replace the need for more permanent legislation addressing the matter."

The Human Rights Campaign, which recently presented Cuomo with its National Equality Award, has drafted model legislation to ban conversion therapy on the state level.

Persad says, similar to the regulations announced by the governor, the model focuses on a state's licensing authority to target those who practice conversion therapy.

"This would constitute a violation that would result in revocation of a professional license, that will prevent those practitioners from practicing under a state authority," he says.

Last year, legislation to ban conversion therapy was introduced in 18 states.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY