Conversion therapy that aims to turn gay people straight would be banned in New York under a new bill in the City Council.
The proposal — sponsored by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and being fast-tracked to a hearing on Monday — would make it illegal for anyone to charge a fee to perform therapy to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
It goes beyond legislation to ban the practice for minors that has passed elsewhere in the country by prohibiting it for adults as well.
“It’s barbaric,” Mark-Viverito told the Daily News of the practice. “The idea that you can change a person’s sexual identity though some kind of conversion therapy is just barbaric, just ridiculous.”
In New York, Gov. Cuomo has signed an order prohibiting health insurance companies from covering gay conversion therapy. State legislation to outlaw the practice for minors has passed the state Assembly several times, most recently in April, but never made it through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Under the city bill, therapists could be hit with a $1,000 fine for each violation of the ban on charging for services designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Individuals who might do such therapy for free, such as clergy members, would not be affected.
Mathew Shurka, 29, said he suffered through five years of conversion therapy starting when he was 16 and first told his father he was gay.
“I went through depression and anxiety, afraid someone would find out I was gay,” said Shurka, who said he was taking Viagra pills at his therapist’s suggestion and did not speak to his mother for three years because the therapist urged him to get away from feminizing influences, but knew deep down the therapy wasn’t working because he was still attracted to men.