New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt

N.Y. Senate Minority Leader Criticized for Donation to Group that Supports Conversion Therapy

New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt
New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt

Openly gay state Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, joined North Tonawanda Alderman-at-Large Austin Tylec in calling upon State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, to explain his donation to the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, an anti-LGBTQ group that supports conversion therapy.

In response, NYFRF defended Ortt, who also put out a statement disclaiming any intent to oppose equality for LGBTQ people, claiming that he supported the group only for its anti-abortion mission and not for its opposition to LGBTQ people:

“Sen. Ortt supports the rights of all New Yorkers to live their lives free of discrimination, including individuals in the LGBTQ community. Using his support of pro-life values to insinuate otherwise is plainly wrong. Senator Ortt respects people with different values and beliefs.”

The city council declined to take further action, according to the Niagara Wheatfield Tribune, a local weekly newspaper.

Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

New York Senate, Assembly Pass Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

January 15, 2019

Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director / 215-983-3099

New York Senate and Assembly Pass Bill to Prohibit Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Youth

Once signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York will become the 15th state to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and the first state to prohibit the practice in 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. — Today, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed S1046/A576, a bill that protects LGBTQ youth from the practice of conversion therapy. Born Perfect, The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ campaign to end conversion therapy, has worked on the ground since 2013 to advocate for the passage of this landmark bill to stop this harmful and discredited practice. Born Perfect is proud of the work Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill’s sponsor, has done to elevate the voices of survivors and to ensure that New York protects its youth.

“After six years working alongside Assemblymember Glick and Senator Hoylman, I’m proud to see this bill pass for the first time by the New York State Senate. The trauma inflicted on me by conversion therapy is now illegal. This law will save many lives. What’s important now is to ensure that this law is enforced, as we know licensed conversion therapists continue to practice throughout the state” said conversion therapy survivor and Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka.  “I look forward to Governor Cuomo signing the bill into law to finally protect LGBTQ youth – a promise he made in 2015, and a promise he said he’d fulfill in the first 100 days of 2019.”

Born and raised in New York, Shurka was subjected to conversion therapy as a minor in Manhattan. Seeing four different licensed therapists over a period of five years, Shurka was separated from his mother and sisters in an effort to “de-feminize” him in order to change his sexual orientation—an experience that resulted in severe trauma, anxiety, depression, and suicidality.

Also referred to as “ex-gay therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” conversion therapy attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The ineffective and dangerous practice has been discredited by the American Psychological Association—and every other major professional health and mental organization—and can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.  According to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, nearly 700,000 people in the United States have been subjected to conversion therapy, and half of those were minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that adolescents subjected to conversion therapy were significantly more likely to attempt suicide.  

Once the bill is signed into law, New York will be the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. Media outlets have previously misreported that New York State passed a ban on conversion therapy, mistaking Governor Cuomo’s 2016 Executive Order—which barred health care insurers from supporting conversion therapy—as legislation that fully prohibited conversion therapy statewide.

Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by NCLR, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and local advocacy groups.

Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

NCLR Applauds Governor Cuomo for Taking Bold Executive Action to End Conversion Therapy in New York

NEW YORK (February 6, 2016)—New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of comprehensive regulations to prevent the practice of so-called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “conversion therapy,” which has been deemed harmful to patients by a wide variety of leading medical and mental health professionals. The multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.

“We could not be more grateful to Governor Cuomo for standing up to the conversion therapy industry today and protecting LGBTQ New Yorkers from these dangerous and discredited practices,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “The regulations announced today are historic, not only representing the first time a governor has taken executive action to protect youth from conversion therapy, but also ensuring that protection doesn’t stop when they turn 18. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of survivors, mental health professionals, faith leaders, and youth advocates in New York, we are one step closer to finally closing this cruel chapter of our history. We look forward to other states following Governor Cuomo’s leadership and working together toward the day all LGBTQ children know they were born perfect.”

NCLR has been at the forefront of the fight to end conversion therapy and works closely with legislators and state leaders across the country to introduce bills protecting youth from these dangerous practices, which are associated with extreme depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. Five jurisdictions—California, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Illinois—have passed legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the practices, with leaders from several other states planning introduction of similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session. In 2014, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.