Today HRC, praised the news that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will use the authority of his office to take historic action protecting LGBTQ youth in the Empire State from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” As the first Governor to use his executive authority to protect LGBTQ youth from the widely denounced practice, under his direction, three state agencies will take separate actions.
The news comes as HRC is set to honor Gov. Cuomo tonight at the 2016 HRC Greater New York Gala with the National Equality Award for his remarkable leadership in advancing LGBT equality in the Empire State.
“Governor Cuomo continues to cement his role as one of the LGBT community’s strongest allies by taking this enormous step to end a practice that is tantamount to child abuse,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy, which has been linked to youth substance abuse, depression, homelessness, and even suicide.”
“With leaders like Governor Cuomo, we’re on on our way to putting an end to this horrible practice.”
Under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership, the New York State Department of Financial Services will issue regulations prohibiting insurance providers from covering conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18. The New York State Office of Mental Health will prohibit mental health providers from using conversion therapy on youth under the age of 18, and violations of these important protections will result in revocation of licenses. The New York State Department of Health will also take separate action to declare the abusive practice is not covered by the New York State Medicaid plan since it is never medically necessary care.
Claims by practitioners of so-called conversion therapy -- that they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression -- have been soundly rejected by every major medical and mental health association, including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. Last April, the White Housecalled for an end to the practice, and in May, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act – federal legislation that would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on any person in exchange for monetary compensation. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) also released a report definitively denouncing “conversion therapy” last October.
From fighting for marriage equality to combating HIV and AIDS, to removing obstacles and improving opportunities for transgender people, Governor Cuomo has made LGBT equality a core part of his agenda since the beginning of his tenure. Last fall, he used the authority of his office to take a historic step by extending crucial non-discrimination protections to transgender New Yorkers and visitors to the state in employment, housing, and public services and spaces. Building upon state and federal case law, Governor Cuomo’s administration issued regulations clarifying that gender identity is included in the definitions of sex and disability, which are protected under current state non-discrimination law. With today’s news, he continues his pro-equality legacy by standing with LGBTQ youth in New York.
Six other jurisdictions have taken action to end this dangerous practice on minors. Laws banning conversion therapy have been passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.
HRC and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation protecting youth from conversion therapy. The organizations have also released first-of-its-kind sample legislation for state legislators and equality advocates that draws from best practices in the jurisdictions that have passed successful laws, the more than 20 states that have introduced similar bills, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, and the experience of legal experts working on this vitally important issue.