New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to ban LGBT conversion therapy

Feature story by Tiffany Tsoi

In February, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced steps to ban therapists from attempting to change young people’s sexual orientation.

LGBT Conversion Therapy, also called Reparative Therapy, is the controversial practice of aiming to transform LGBT people into heterosexuals/cissexuals, which perpetuates the idea that homosexuality or transexuality is a mental illness. It has been deemed as a pseudoscience.

Many medical groups in the US have already condemned Gay Conversion Therapy for being harmful towards the wellbeing of adolescents, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Psychological Association. After a transgender teen named Leelah Alcorn committed suicide in 2014 after being put in Conversion Therapy by her parents, President Barack Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett urged individual states to start banning Conversion Therapy, saying that the white house supported efforts to ban conversion therapy.

“We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are,” said Andrew Cuomo in a statement. His announcement on saturday plans to prevent New York mental facilities from carrying out Conversion Therapy on minors, as well as prohibiting insurance providers from covering conversion therapy for young people under the age of 18.

Following Andrew Cuomo’s announcement, responses have been mostly positive. “No longer will unscrupulous peddlers of this dangerous pseudoscience victimize LGBT youth in New York State,” LGBT advocacy group Empire State Pride Agenda said, praising his decision. “LGBT youth will no longer be driven to suicide by abusive techniques intended to destroy their very identities.”

Democratic New York Governer Andrew Cuomo (pictured) plans to ban LGBT conversion therapy.

In my opinion, not only does Cuomo’s announcement raise awareness for the detrimental psychological effects that conversion therapy causes to minors being subjected to it, it is also a step forward in the battle towards the acceptance of LGBT youth all around the world. Other states in the US have already banned conversion therapy, states such as California, New Jersey, and Illinois. Hopefully, it is only a matter of time before conversion therapy becomes a federal ban in the US, and other countries follow suit.

Sexual orientation is not a mental illness or a phase, and it cannot be changed through therapy. To say that when LGBT youth go through conversion therapy they are being “cured”, is, in my opinion, a grotesque use of vocabulary. Being gay is not a problem that needs to, or can, be “fixed”. Statistics show that compared with LGBT youth who were not rejected or were only minorly rejected by their parents, LGBT youth who have gone through conversion therapy are eight times more likely to have attempted suicide- the case of Leelah Alcorn being a prime example for this. Such a hateful and brutal practice is ineffective, as well as potentially fatal- so it is crucial that conversion therapy is banned before any more irreversible harm is done to LGBT youth.