NY Senate passes bills banning gender identity discrimination, sexual orientation change therapy for minors

People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

The New York Senate has passed bills that ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and prohibit sexual orientation change efforts therapy for minors.

State Senators approved on Tuesday the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), or S.1047, and S.1046, which prohibits mental health professionals from performing SOCE therapy on youth.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, who introduced both bills, said in a statement released Tuesday that he was “proud to be part of a Democratic majority that works to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers.”

“The passage of GENDA … and legislation to end so-called conversion therapy will codify our progressive reputation and ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation are treated with dignity and respect under the law,” stated Sen. Hoylman.

“As the Trump administration continues to rollback protections for LGBTQ Americans, today’s victory sends a strong message to LGBTQ New Yorkers across the state: you are loved, understood, and protected by your state government. We will not let you down.”

For years, State Senate Republicans had effectively blocked both legislative proposals, including in May 2018 when the New York Senate Investigations & Government Operations Committee defeated GENDA in a 5-4 vote that fell on party lines.

In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order banning conversion therapy for minors; however, there remained no actual legislation on the books.

For his part, Governor Cuomo has expressed support for both bills and is expected to sign them into law when they are officially delivered to him.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms has denounced the passage of both bills by the Senate, with Executive Director Jason J. McGuire denouncing the conversion therapy ban as a measure that “will harm four groups of people.”

“First, it will harm young people that might benefit from change therapy, but will no longer be able to obtain it legally in the State of New York. Second, it will harm the parents of those young people by removing potential sources of help for their kids,” stated McGuire.

“Third, it will harm mental health professionals who could now lose their livelihoods if they assist minor clients in overcoming unwanted same-sex attraction. Fourth, it will harm every resident of the State of New York by eroding free speech, religious liberty, and parental rights.”

McGuire also took issue with GENDA, warning that the bill is based in several falsehoods, chief among them “the notion that the State of New York should consider gender dysphoria an identity to be affirmed, not a psychiatric condition to be compassionately treated.”

“It means that employers must allow ‘transgender’ employees to cross-dress and use opposite-sex facilities in the workplace. It means that the preferences of ‘transgender’ persons now take precedence over the privacy and safety of actual women and girls,” McGuire said.

“While the sponsors of GENDA doubtless believe that their bill is motivated by compassion for ‘transgender’ persons, the bill shows a curious lack of compassion toward New Yorkers who will be adversely affected by its contents.”

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