Governor issues executive order after legislative process stalls.
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday is taking steps to ban what is known as gay conversion therapy, after the state’s legislature has failed to agree on banning the controversial therapy in the past, according to USA Today.
Cuomo, calling conversion therapy a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice, announced a plan that would prohibit insurance coverage for the therapy on minors, and ban mental health facilities under the jurisdiction of the state’s Office of Mental Health from offering the program to minors as well.
Mental health groups say conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, treats being gay as a mental illness, and leads to making young people feel ashamed, anxious and depressed. There are no exact numbers of how many youths have been subjected to the therapy across the country, but critics and proponents of the practice both say it is not rare for children to undergo some type of program that tries to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
California, Oregon Illinois and New Jersey, along with some major US cities, have banned the therapy, but states like Colorado, Nevada and Iowa have not been able to pass legislation to ban or restrict the programs. New York has twice passed a bill through their Democrat-controlled state assembly, only to see it die in the Republican majority Senate. President Obama called for an end to the practice last year as well.
Chad Griffin, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, supported Cuomo’s decision, saying in a statement, “No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy.”
But supporters of the therapy say the new order limits the options for treatment and impedes religious liberty. Carrie Gordon Earll, the public policy vice president of the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, said in an email the group opposed the efforts of the state of New York and other legislative bodies, adding minors should have access to professionally based, ethically directed care, that aligns with their values, faith and life goals.
A spokeswoman for an insurers group, the New York Health Plan Association, said it wan unclear if the new order would require insurers to investigate mental health visits by minors to determine if conversion therapy was involved. The executive order would not apply to counseling programs that only discuss sexual orientation or gender identity.