Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced that today the Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to protect transgender and non-gender conforming New Yorkers from discrimination, as well as legislation to ban mental health professionals from using the practice of conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18.
"New York has a reputation for diversity and inclusion and the Assembly Majority is committed to maintaining that reputation and protecting the rights of others," said Speaker Heastie. "Everyone has a right to live their life free from hostility and exclusion, and our youth deserve support in discovering their identity in a way that promotes happiness and positive mental health."
"Today is an historic day," said Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of GENDA. "The Assembly has passed the bill 11 times, but the Senate's Republican Majority refused to let the bill have a floor vote. Today, the new Democratic Majority has joined us in protecting the rights of New Yorkers regardless of gender identity or expression. With an administration of bullies in Washington, New York is standing up for common sense, fairness, and justice. I look forward to Governor Cuomo signing GENDA into law." "Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice," said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. "It is built on the denial of LGBTQ people's basic humanity, jeopardizes young people's mental health, and is a perversion of mental health professionals' mission to help."
GENDA would expand protections under the Human Rights Law by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in considerations of employment, education, credit and housing. In addition, this legislation would add offenses motivated by a person's gender identity or expression to the hate crimes statute (A.747, Gottfried).
The second bill (A.576, Glick) would prohibit a mental health professional from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of an individual under the age of 18. Under the bill, any mental health professional that is found to have violated this prohibition would be subject to professional misconduct and its applicable penalties.
In 2009, The American Psychological Association convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation that concluded 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.