The Parliament of New York approved today a bill to prohibit in this state the controversial conversion therapy, which seeks to change the sexual orientation of people, for children under eighteen.
The bill, which was initially introduced more than a decade ago, also protects state residents from discrimination based on gender identity or expression in employment, education, credit and housing.
The state Assembly, dominated by Democrats, has been approving the measure since 2008, which it also did today, but it was restrained in the Senate, which for the past ten years was dominated by Republicans, which changed in the last elections of November.
With the dominion now of the democrats of both bodies, finally the bill also found a green light in the Senate today, and only now waits to be signed by the governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Conversion therapy or rehabilitation aims to change the identity or sexual orientation of people and is based on the idea that homosexuality is "a disease or a mental disorder", which organizations such as the American Medical Association reject.
"New York has a reputation for diversity and inclusion and the majority of the Assembly is committed to maintaining that reputation and protecting the rights of others," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
"Everyone has the right to live their lives free from hostility and exclusion, and our young people deserve support in their quest to discover their identity in a way that promotes their happiness and positive mental health," he added.
For its part, Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the measure in the state Assembly, said it is a "historic" day to remember that this legislative body has approved the measure eleven times.
With this action, New York follows in the footsteps of fourteen other states that have already banned it: Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland , Hawaii and New Hampshire.
The action has already been applauded by politicians and organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign for "protecting young people from the dangerous and discredited" conversion practice, the organization said in a statement.
"The Democratic majority was finally able to protect from discrimination and hatred of transgender New Yorkers and those who do not like their gender," said Senator Brad Hoylman, one of the project's authors in the Upper House.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to make it into law next week, had banned this therapy in 2016 by executive order because he did not have support in the Senate.
Cuomo congratulated the state legislature for approving the project: "Today we are fairer," he said in a tweet to ensure that New Yorkers should be proud that "the damaging and discredited" conversion therapy has gone down in history.
According to the American Psychological Association, conversion therapy does not change a person's sexual orientation and has expressed concern about such therapies and possible harm to patients.
"The reality is that homosexuality is not a disease, it does not require treatment and it can not be changed," they say on their website.
According to the bill, any mental health professional who violates the prohibition would be subject to professional misconduct and applicable sanctions.