On January 15, the New York State Legislature passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA, A747/S1047), meant to protect transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB) people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, as well as legislation to protect minors from so-called sexual orientation “conversion therapy” (A576/S1046), according to major LGBTQ organizations, who informed members and supporters via email. Both bills await the signature of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to become New York State law.
Lambda Legal Fair Courts Project Senior Attorney Ethan Rice wrote, “For a population that faces heightened levels of violence, discrimination, and harassment, the long-awaited passage of GENDA ensures transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers are explicitly protected from discrimination … and have legal recourse when their civil rights are violated. We are also thrilled to announce that another of our most vulnerable populations–LGBTQ youth–has cause for celebration today with the passing of A576/S1046. The critical bill officially bans the use of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors. As of today, New York is now one of 15 states that has passed laws banning the harmful and widely discredited practice.”
New York City’s LGBT Community Center Executive Director Glennda Testone called GENDA “a major step forward in ensuring that … TGNCNB people are treated fairly and equally under the law … By adding gender identity and expression as a protected class under the Human Rights Law, GENDA provides TGNCNB people with protection against harassment and discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces like restaurants and shops.” She added, “We are also thrilled to share news of the passage of A576/S1046, legislation that now bans the dangerous and medically-discredited practice known as “conversion therapy” in New York State. By banning conversion therapy, New York will protect LGBTQ youth, especially TGNCNB youth, from being unduly victimized and traumatized simply for living their authentic lives.”
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie offered, “Transgender people–those whose gender identity, appearance, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth–frequently face discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and other areas of life. Regrettably, we have also seen a spike in the number of hate crimes nationally. In New York, it’s clear that the transgender community is not adequately protected under current state law. New York has a reputation for diversity and inclusion and the Assembly Majority is committed to maintaining that reputation and protecting the rights of others. Everyone has a right to live their life free from hostility and prejudice. The Assembly also passed legislation to prohibit a mental health professional from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of an individual under the age of 18. Under the bill, any mental health professional who is found to have violated this prohibition would be subject to professional misconduct and its applicable penalties … Our youth deserve support in discovering their identity in a way that promotes happiness and positive mental health.”
In a Tweet, openly gay New York State Assemblymember for Manhattan’s 69th District and candidate for New York City Public Advocate Danny O’Donnell declared the former development, “A huge step towards #Equality for All.”