LGBT rights in New York

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LGBT rights in New York
Map of USA NY.svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1980
(New York v. Onofre)
Gender identity/expression Gender confirmation surgery not a requirement for changing New York State and New York City birth certificates
Discrimination protections Yes (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage performed and recognized in the state since 2011
Adoption Yes

The U.S. state of New York has generally been seen as socially liberal in regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights. The advocacy movement for LGBT rights in the state has been dated as far back as 1969 during the Stonewall riots in New York City. Same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults has been legal since the New York v. Onofre case in 1980. Same-sex marriage has been legal statewide since 2011, with the state recognizing domestic partnerships between same-sex couples beforehand since 1998. Discrimination protections regarding sexual orientation have also been adopted statewide since 2003. While transgender people born in the state can alter their birth certificate before or after sex-reassignment surgery, the practice is not covered by the state statute, and discrimination protections regarding gender identity or expression were not fully recognized statewide until October 2015.

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

All existing laws against private consenting homosexual sexual conduct between adults were abolished by the New York Court of Appeals in the 1980 case New York v. Onofre, with the exception of laws affecting employees of the New York National Guard. Repeal of the state National Guard's restrictions took effect in 2000.[citation needed]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

On June 24, 2011, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed the Marriage Equality Act allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in New York State.[1] The law took effect on July 24, 2011.

Previously, New York recognized same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions since May 14, 2008, when Governor David Paterson issued an executive directive for all state agencies to recognize such marriages.[2][3][4][5] New York City has recognized domestic partnerships since 1998, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani signed a law establishing them.[6][7]

Before the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, the New York Court of Appeals held that New York law did not permit same-sex marriage and that there was no state constitutional right to same-sex marriage.[8]

New York has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 1995.[9]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

New York law allows LGBT individuals and same-sex couples to petition to adopt.[10][11]

LGBT individuals and couples can go to "The Center" in Manhattan, New York to find out more about adoption and fostering. "You Gotta Believe" is hosting monthly orientation and weekly foster parent certification training in "The Center".

Discrimination protections[edit]

In 2003, New York's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) took effect. SONDA "prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights."[12]

On December 16, 2009, Governor David Paterson issued an executive order banning discrimination based on gender identity in state employment.[13][14] Courts have ruled that transsexual individuals can pursue anti-discrimination claims under the category of sex.[15]

Between 2007 and 2015, the New York State Assembly for the 8th time in a row keeps passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Bill (GENDA).[16][17][18] The New York State Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to vote on the measure.[19][20][21][22][23]

The counties of Suffolk, Tompkins, and Westchester, along with the cities of New York, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, Syracuse, and Rochester have non-discrimination ordinances protecting gender identity.

On October 22, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would direct the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) to promulgate regulations banning harassment and discrimination against transgender individuals in employment, housing, education, access to credit, and public accommodations.[24] The NYS DHR issued proposed regulations on November 4, 2015, and will likely issue final regulations shortly after the public comment period closes. New York became the first state in the United States to ban both harassment and discrimination in both the private and public sector.[24] On 20 January 2016, 9 New York Code of Rules and Regulations §466.13 went into effect.[25][26][27]

Hate crime laws[edit]

The Hate Crimes Act of 2000 covers sexual orientation but not gender identity.[28][29][30]

Gender reassignment[edit]

New York issues new birth certificates to persons born in the state who have undergone sex reassignment surgery, though the practice is not covered by state statute.[31]

Since 2014, both New York State and New York City do not require genital reconstruction surgery to change or get a new birth certificate.


On May 30, 2012, in the case of Yonaty v. Mincolla, a unanimous four-judge panel of the New York Appellate Division held that labeling someone "gay" or a "homosexual" can no longer be grounds for defamation. Justice Thomas Mercure wrote: "In light of the tremendous evolution in social attitudes regarding cannot be said that current public opinion supports a rule that would equate statements imputing homosexuality with accusations of serious criminal conduct or insinuations that an individual has a loathsome disease."[32] The ruling is subject to appeal.[33]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On June 16, 2014, the New York State Assembly voted 86–28 to pass a bill that would prohibit health care providers from trying to change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of minors.[34] However, the bill subsequently got blocked in the New York State Senate.[35] On April 29, 2015, the New York State Assembly again voted 111–12 to pass a bipartisan bill that would prohibit health care providers from trying to change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of minors.[36][37] The bill died without a vote in the Senate.[38]

On February 6, 2016, New York's governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of regulations to prevent the use of conversion therapy on LGBT minors. The regulations ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in the state, and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.[39][40] Governor Cuomo said the following in a statement:

Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for. New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades -- and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "First New York couples wed under new same-sex marriage law". CNN. July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ New York Times: Jeremy W. Peters, "New York to Back Same-Sex Unions From Elsewhere", accessed August 4, 2011
  3. ^ "May 14, 2008 Executive Order" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  4. ^ "New York to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages". 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  5. ^ BBC: "NY to recognize same-sex marriage", accessed August 4, 2011
  6. ^ New York City: "Mayor Giuliani Signs Landmark Domestic Partnership Legislation", accessed August 4, 2011
  7. ^ "New York City Takes Historic Step on Domestic Partnership", accessed August 4, 2011
  8. ^ "Hernandez v Robles (2006 NY Slip Op 05239)". Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  9. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  10. ^ "New York Adoption Law". 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  11. ^ Fishman, Laura (2010-09-22). "New York Governor Signs Gay Adoption Bill". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  12. ^ Office of the Attorney General: "The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act ("SONDA")", accessed July 25, 2011
  13. ^ "EXECUTIVE ORDER NO 33: Prohibiting Discrimination In State Employment On The Basis Of Gender Identity". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  14. ^ "New York gov extends protections to transgender New Yorkers". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  15. ^ "Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  16. ^ N.Y. Assembly approves bill to outlaw transgender discrimination – for the 8th consecutive year
  17. ^ "N.Y. state assembly passes gender expression non-discrimination act, again". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  18. ^ David Badash (2014-06-10). "Breaking: New York State Assembly Passes Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act". The New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  19. ^ "A06584". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  20. ^ "A05710". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  21. ^ New York State Assembly: A05039, accessed July 25, 2011
  22. ^ New Civil Rights Movement: "Lost In NY Marriage Shuffle: GENDA Passes Assembly, Stalls In Senate", accessed July 25, 2011
  23. ^ "New York State Considering Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill; Legislation Has Already Been Approved 81-59 « CBS New York". 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  24. ^ a b "Governor Cuomo Introduces Regulations to Protect Transgender New Yorkers from Unlawful Discrimination". October 22, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ Cuomo Planning Discrimination Protections for Transgender New Yorkers
  27. ^ Governor Cuomo Announces New Regulations Protecting Transgender New Yorkers from Discrimination
  28. ^ New York State Assembly: S04691, accessed July 26, 2011
  29. ^ New York Times: "Pataki Signs Bill Raising Penalties In Hate Crimes", accessed July 26, 2011
  30. ^ Buffalo News: "Last year saw progress on issues of gay rights", accessed July 25, 2011
  31. ^ Human Rights Campaign: New York Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues, accessed July 25, 2011
  32. ^ Village Voice: John Surico, "The Insane Immaturity of Albany's Gay Defamation Case," June 2, 2012, accessed June 2, 2012
  33. ^ New York Times: "Label of Gay Is No Longer Defamatory, Court Rules," May 31, 2012, accessed June 2, 2012
  34. ^ "NY Assembly passes conversion therapy ban for kids". Wall Street Journal. June 16, 2014. 
  35. ^ "US: New York Senate blocks 'gay cure' therapy ban, trans anti-discrimination bill". PinkNews. June 21, 2014. 
  36. ^ N.Y. Assembly votes to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth; Senate passage unlikely
  37. ^ A04958 Text: "Sexual orientation change efforts" (i) means any practice by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex and (ii) shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support and understanding of patients or the facilitation of patients' coping, social support and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.
  38. ^ NY A04958 | 2015-2016 | General Assembly
  39. ^ Governor Cuomo Announces Executive Actions Banning Coverage of Conversion Therapy
  40. ^ New York Gov. Cuomo announces regulations to prevent gay 'conversion therapy'