NEW YORK — (01-26-19) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday signed two bills, a Transgender Rights Bill known as GENDA and a bill which bans the controversial conversion therapy on children.

The conversion therapy ban and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), adds gender expression and identity as protected classes in New York state’s human rights and hate crimes laws.

This has been called a major victory for the LGBTQ community as Republicans last year, blocked the two bills when they controlled the New York State senate.  However when the blue wave went through New York last Nov. 6, Democrats took back control of both houses and immediately moved to get both bills passed.

“Today is a day we have been waiting and fighting for for a very long time,” said Glennda Testone, executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York City, which hosted the signing ceremony.

Health professionals and medical groups nationwide have denounced conversion therapy practices mainly because of concerns that it’s harmful to children and their development.

With the ban on conversion therapy, New York becomes the 15th to prohibit the controversial technique. Supporters of conversion therapy believe it can change an individual’s sexual orientation.

The new law aims to prevent discrimination against the transgender community in New York state. The U.S. Transgender Survey found 30 percent of transgender or gender nonconforming Americans were denied a promotion, harassed at their workplace or fired from their jobs because on the basis of their gender identity.

Nearly a quarter of respondents in the same survey said they faced housing discrimination.

Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, praised Gov. Cuomo for signing GENDA into the state’s laws.

“Legal protection from violence and discrimination is part of building an inclusive society where everybody can thrive, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Brinton. “The passage of GENDA into law is a tangible sign of hope for the youth who contact The Trevor Project’s crisis intervention services every day.” said Brinton.

Cuomo took the opportunity to voice his record on LGBTQ issues and noted that New York was the first major state to achieve marriage equality for the LGBTQ community. In fact New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011 during Gov. Cuomo’s first year in office.

Gov. Cuomo took executive action to protect transgender New Yorkers and restrict conversion therapy, but passing GENDA and the conversion therapy ban was always the main goal.

Speaking before he signed GENDA and the conversion therapy ban, Cuomo slammed the Supreme Court’s recent decision related to transgender military service members.

When the conservative members of the U.S Supreme Court ruled to lift injunctions that blocked a Trump administration policy to ban most transgender people from military service, it drew outrage throughout the LGBTQ community.

“The Supreme Court says you can discriminate against transgender in the military,” said Gov. Cuomo. “We say today no you can’t. You can’t discriminate against people by gender identity, period.” said Cuomo.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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