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8 Feb, 2016 15:15

Gay 'conversion' therapy funding targeted by NY governor

Gay 'conversion' therapy funding targeted by NY governor

The controversial practice of gay "conversion therapy" faces a funding ban in the US state of New York.

Shortly before receiving the "National Equality Award" at the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) gala Saturday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his plan for new laws to prohibit public and private healthcare insurers from funding the practice for anyone under the age of 18.

The state’s Medicaid program and mental health facilities will also be restricted from financing such programs.

Proponents of the therapy say it can reverse a person’s sexual orientation and is available in numerous states around the country with health insurers often providing funding for the treatment.

READ MORE: Illinois bans ‘gay conversion therapy’ of minors, links it to fraud

"Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for," Cuomo said in a well-timed statement released ahead of his appearance at a fundraiser for HRC, a leading LGBTI advocacy group.

Groups such as the American Psychiatric Association and the New York State Academy of Pediatrics have described the therapy as "not a scientifically validated treatment".

A representative from the Christian conservative organization Focus on the Family told ABC News that they oppose Cuomo’s laws.

Minors "should have access to professionally based, ethically directed care that assesses, clarifies and aligns with their deeply-held values, faith and life goals," Carrie Gordon Earll, the group’s vice president for public policy said.

This isn’t the first time such legislation has been tried in New York.

Two previous attempts passed the Democrat-led state assembly, but failed to get through the Republican-controlled senate.