Fox 5: NY lawmakers weigh ban on 'gay-conversion' therapy

Brad Hoylman

May 16, 2014

May 15,2014 : By Arthur Chi'en 

Some mental health professionals in New York engage in a practice that basically assumes that if you're gay you're broken but you can be fixed. The science behind that is being challenged now as state lawmakers want to ban the practice altogether.

Matthew Shurka says he spent 5 years in gay conversion therapy. He says he contemplated suicide and used food or drugs or anything to try to take himself away from what he needed to face: that he is gay and one can't cure being gay. Targeted for the therapy when he was 16, Shurka testified before a panel of state legislators looking to ban the practice in New York State as it already is in New Jersey.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman says there's no science behind the practice. He says the practice still exists because of misinformation about the power of therapy and that the idea that being gay is something that needs a cure. He says the state needs to protect kids from "quacks who try to change their sexual orientation." He calls it a consumer protection issue and fraud issue.

Still, some mental health professionals don't want the government dictating what goes on in their practice.

Supporters of the bill are hoping to get it on the Senate floor within the next few weeks. If they do find bipartisan support they hope to ban the practice altogether by midsummer.

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