Washington-(CNN) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced regulations to prevent “conversion therapy,” a practice aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, in the Empire State.
Conversion therapy aims to transform gays and lesbians into heterosexuals. It has been denounced by several leading medical groups, including the American Psychological Association, which says efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy have “serious potential to harm young people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder.”
“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” Cuomo said 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,” he added.
Saturday’s announcement bans public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State. It also prohibits New York mental health facilities from conducting the practice on minors.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s LGBT civil rights organization, praised the decision by Cuomo, calling him the first governor to use his executive authority to block conversion therapy.
“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,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “With leaders like Governor Cuomo, we’re on on our way to putting an end to this horrible practice.”
Similar laws already exist in Oregon, California, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
Responding to a petition that began after a transgender teenager committed suicide after being subjected to conversion therapy, President Barack Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett urged individual states to ban the therapy given studies showing its potential harm to those subjected to it.
“As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors,” Jarrett wrote last summer.