NEW YORK — New York is taking steps to stop therapists from trying to change young people’s sexual orientation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday, joining a number of states that have acted against what’s known as gay conversion therapy.

Using executive power in a state where legislative bids to ban the therapy have stalled, the Democratic governor announced planned regulations that would bar insurance coverage for the therapy for minors and prohibit mental health facilities under state Office of Mental Health jurisdiction from offering it to minors.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice” that punishes people “for simply being who they are,” Cuomo said in a statement.

It’s unclear how prevalent the practice is in New York.

The planned regulation quickly raised an unaswered question for the New York Health Plan Association: Would the insurer have to investigate whether any given mental health visit was for conversion therapy or would the onus be on providers to attest that it wasn’t?

Nationwide, there are no firm figures on the extent of conversion therapy. But proponents and critics have said it is not rare for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths to undergo some sort of program aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The American Psychological Association and other mental health groups say conversion therapy, sometimes called reparative therapy, wrongly treats being gay as a mental illness.

California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati have outlawed the practice. But in New York, a ban has passed the Democrat-controlled state Assembly twice. But it has gotten nowhere in the Republican-led Senate.


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