New York protects LGBT youth from conversion therapy

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York has joined a handful of other American states in barring the provision of so-called conversion therapy to young LGBT people.

On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of regulations to prevent the discredited and dangerous practice.

Conversion or reparative therapy, which falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been widely denounced by mainstream medical and mental health association in the US and in many other countries.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Cuomo in a statement.

“New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

The new measures ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State, and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.

“Governor Cuomo and the State of New York are commended for taking a principled and scientific stand,” said American Psychiatric Association (APA) President Renee Binder. “APA has long recognised that so-called reparative therapy is not a scientifically validated treatment and can, in fact, undermine self-esteem and be hazardous.”

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin, who previously dubbed the practice “child abuse”, added: “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.”

In October, America’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration condemned attempts to “cure” gay or transgender teens and said that conversion therapy“is not an appropriate therapeutic approach based on the evidence.”

Laws banning conversion therapy among minors have been passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

While the South African Society of Psychiatrists has rejected the practice of conversion therapy, it remains legal and has been practised in South Africa.

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