New York Bans Gay Conversion Therapy, Becomes 15th State To Do So

New York has become the 15th state (plus the District of Columbia) to ban so-called "gay conversion therapy," a controversial practice that critics say seeks to unnaturally overturn a child's innate sexual orientation and is tantamount to torture.

As the New York Times reports, New York was comparatively slow in coming to ban the practice. Democrats had, since 2003, offered several bills aimed at banning the controversial practice, but with Republicans having been in control of the General Assembly, those bills went nowhere. Now, however, with Democrats in control of New York's legislature, a bill banning the controversial practice finally made it past the floor. State lawmakers voted "overwhelmingly" to ban mental health professionals from attempting to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Governor Andrew Cuomo intends to sign the legislation, as well as a companion bill that adds gender identity to New York's list of protected classes.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, says the time is right for this legislation.

"It was a quantum leap forward. I hope we can build on that."
Cuomo agrees.
"So-called L.G.B.T.Q. conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice that has done untold harm to too many young people."
What Is Gay Conversion Therapy?

According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, "gay conversion therapy," also called "reparative therapy," begins with the belief that gay or gender-questioning child or teen is inherently "flawed" and needs "fixed."

Besides the flawed premise from which practitioners are working, some of the purported methods used are tantamount to psychological torture, writes the group.
"The techniques therapists have used to try to change sexual orientation and gender identity include inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images; providing electric shocks... trying to make patients' behavior more stereotypically feminine or masculine, teaching heterosexual dating skills, using hypnosis to try to redirect desires and arousal, and other techniques—all based on the scientifically discredited premise that being LGBT is a defect or disorder."
Religious Freedom?

Meanwhile, the Evangelical community insists that putting a child through "gay conversion therapy" is not only within the family's rights to seek medical care for their children, but also free speech and free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment. Jeff Jonhston, writing for Focus on the Family, says that patients deserve access to treatment for "unwanted homosexuality."

"Focus on the Family supports the right of those with unwanted homosexuality—feelings, attractions, thoughts, desires, actions or identity—to seek help from licensed mental health professionals."
Besides New York, the other 14 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have banned gay conversion therapy are New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, and New Hampshire.