NEW YORK — New York lawmakers last week heard testimony on a bill that would ban licensed therapists from counseling gay and lesbian minors to change their sexual orientation, amid a growing wave of backlash against the practice, Reuters reports.
The so-called “conversion therapy” has seen increasing scrutiny recently from medical professionals and gay and lesbian rights advocates who say it damages the health and identities of gay youth. If the measure becomes law, New York would become the third state to ban the practice with minors since 2012, Reuters said.
“The anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life, tore apart my family, and nearly killed me,” said Ryan Kendall, 31, at the hearing. According to Reuters’ account of the testimony, Kendall said the practice led him to homelessness, drug abuse and thoughts of suicide.
The bill would ban licensed health professionals from administering therapies aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation to patients under 18 years old. Violators could be fined up to $10,000 and lose their license to practice. California banned conversion therapy for minors in 2012, and New Jersey passed a similar law the following year. The American Psychological Association and an array of other health and social welfare groups have concluded that conversion efforts can pose health risks to youth including confusion, depression, substance abuse and suicide, Reuters said.
New York City psychiatrist Jack Levy was the sole voice to testify against the bill, calling the bill politically motivated.
“It’s putting the government in the consultation room with doctors and their patients,” Reuters quoted Levy as having said.