New York takes up campaign to ban 'ex-gay' therapy for minors

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State Assemblymember Deborah Glick. - PHOTO: Flickr

New York’s statewide LGBT civil rights group this week launched a campaign to pass a bill aimed at protecting minors from psychological abuse by those who practice and promote so-called "ex-gay" therapy.

State Assemblymember Deborah Glick introduced A06983A and State Sens. Brad Hoylman and Michael Gianaris introduced S04917A. The measures would "protect LGBT youth from so-called therapists who use dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression," according to the Empire State Pride Agenda.

“Trying to change someone’s true identity through so-called therapy is a dangerous practice that can seriously harm our LGBT youth,” said Nathan M. Schaefer, the civil rights group's executive director. “Anyone who says they can change an LGBT person from being who they are is preying off of fear and confusion to sell a practice that doesn’t work and causes lasting harm.”

Glick, in a news release, said, “Stronger laws to protect LGBT youth from being subjected to these unsafe and disproven practices are long overdue.”

Hoylman, who represents Manhattan in Albany, added, "Banning this so-called 'therapy' is a bipartisan issue. Since last spring, legislation prohibiting it has passed with bipartisan support in New Jersey and was upheld by a federal court in California. It's time for New York to protect our kids from this insidious practice, which has been thoroughly discredited by experts and poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of LGBT youth."

A majority of medical and mental health associations have stated in policies and resolutions that reparative or "ex-gay" therapy is a damaging practice. Opponents of the practice include the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Counseling Association Governing Council, American Psychoanalytic Organization, American School Counselor Association, National Association of Social Workers and Pan American Health Organization.

"The science is in on so-called reparative therapy. It doesn’t work, and it hurts people,” said Truth Wins Out executive director Wayne Besen. "We applaud these New York lawmakers for standing up for science and quality mental health care by working to eliminate these harmful practices for the good of the citizens they were elected to represent, and especially for the kids of New York."

California lawmakers passed legislation against "ex-gay" therapy for minors in 2012 and New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation in 2013.