June 16, 2014

Assembly Passes Legislation Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors by Mental Health Professionals

Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Deborah Glick today announced the passage of legislation that would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy methods in regard to sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years old (A.6983-B, Glick).

"Sexual orientation is not a disease and should never be treated as such," Silver said. "While many people understand that conversion therapy is not only insulting but also exceptionally harmful to the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian and transgender youth, there is no explicit ban on this threatening and irrational practice here in New York. This legislation remedies this blatant injustice and underscores our duty as elected officials to ensure that all of New York's young adults are treated by mental health professionals in a safe, non-judgmental environment and without any threat to their sexual orientation."

"Conversion therapy is a destructive and illogical practice that eats away at the self-esteem of gay, lesbian and transgender youth and perpetuates the awful stigma that these young men and women are simply not worthy of the same happiness and peace of mind as other young adults their age," Glick said. "Mental health professionals should be providing care, not subjecting their patients to traumatic clinical interventions that seek to fundamentally change who these young adults know themselves to be. Conversion therapy is not right, and simply should not be practiced here in New York, or anywhere else for that matter."

The American Psychological Association convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation in 2009 which concluded that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people ranging from confusion and depression, to substance abuse and suicide. If enacted, today's measure would not only ban conversion therapy on individuals under the age of 18 but also provide that a licensed mental health provider who ignored the ban would be cited for unprofessional conduct and subject to sanctions on their license.