LGBT rights in New York

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LGBT rights in New York
Map of USA NY.svg
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal since 1980
(New York v. Onofre)
Gender identity/expression Sex reassignment surgery not a requirement for changing 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 some cities recognizing domestic partnerships between same-sex couples 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 state statute, and discrimination protections regarding gender identity or expression were not fully recognized statewide until October 2015.

On June 28, 1969, LGBT people rioted following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. This riot and further protests and rioting over the following nights were the watershed moment in the modern LGBT rights movement. New York City is now regarded as one the most LGBT-friendly cities in the United States. In 2016, 30,000 people marched in the New York City LGBT Pride March, with about 2 million people in attendance.[1]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[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. A law repealing the sodomy provisions took effect in 2000.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

LGBT flag map of New York

On June 24, 2011, the New York State Legislature passed and the Governor signed the Marriage Equality Act allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in New York State.[3] 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.[4][5][6][7] New York City has recognized domestic partnerships since 1998, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani signed a law establishing them.[8][9]

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.[10]

New York has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 1995.[11]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

New York law allows LGBT individuals and same-sex couples to petition to adopt.[12][13]

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."[14]

On December 16, 2009, Governor David Paterson issued an executive order banning discrimination based on gender identity in state employment.[15][16] Courts have ruled that transgender individuals can pursue anti-discrimination claims under the category of sex.[17]

Beginning in 2007, the New York State Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) ten times.[18][19][20] Each time it reached the State Senate, however, the bill died in that body's Judiciary Committee. A recent instance of such a defeat was April 25, 2017, when five Republicans and one Democrat on the N.Y. Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee voted against it.[21] Most recently, it was voted down by the same committee on May 15, 2018 (5 Republicans against, 4 Democrats in favor).[22]

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.[23] The NYS DHR issued proposed regulations on November 4, 2015.[23] On 20 January 2016, the regulations, 9 New York Code of Rules and Regulations §466.13, went into effect.[24][25][26]

Hate crime laws[edit]

The Hate Crimes Act of 2000 covers sexual orientation but not gender identity.[27][28][29]

Gender identity and expression[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.[30]

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


Stonewall Inn in Lower Manhattan is famously known as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.

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."[31][32]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On February 6, 2016, New York 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.[33][34] The regulations went into effect on April 27.[35] 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.

Current conversion therapy bans within NY[edit]

Since August 2018, these places within New York State has legally banned conversion therapy on minors:

Proposed conversion therapy bans within NY[edit]

Proposed conversion therapy bans are pending in Nassau County, New York.[40] and Westchester County, New York.[41]

Proposed statewide ban[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.[42] However, the bill subsequently got blocked in the New York State Senate.[43] 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.[44][45] The bill died without a vote in the Senate.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NYC Pride Parade Attendance: How Many People Are Expected to Attend?
  2. ^ Repeals provision of the penal law which establishes consensual sodomy as a crime to conform law with judicial declaration that such law is unconstitutional.
  3. ^ "First New York couples wed under new same-sex marriage law". CNN. July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ New York Times: Jeremy W. Peters, "New York to Back Same-Sex Unions From Elsewhere", accessed August 4, 2011
  5. ^ "May 14, 2008 Executive Order" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  6. ^ "New York to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages". 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  7. ^ BBC: "NY to recognize same-sex marriage", accessed August 4, 2011
  8. ^ New York City: "Mayor Giuliani Signs Landmark Domestic Partnership Legislation", accessed August 4, 2011
  9. ^ "New York City Takes Historic Step on Domestic Partnership", accessed August 4, 2011
  10. ^ "Hernandez v Robles (2006 NY Slip Op 05239)". Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  11. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  12. ^ "New York Adoption Law". 2009-12-14. Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  13. ^ Fishman, Laura (2010-09-22). "New York Governor Signs Gay Adoption Bill". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  14. ^ Office of the Attorney General: "The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act ("SONDA")" Archived 2010-11-25 at the Wayback Machine., accessed July 25, 2011
  15. ^ "EXECUTIVE ORDER NO 33: Prohibiting Discrimination In State Employment On The Basis Of Gender Identity". Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  16. ^ "New York gov extends protections to transgender New Yorkers". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  17. ^ "Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  18. ^ N.Y. Assembly approves bill to outlaw transgender discrimination – for the 8th consecutive year
  19. ^ "N.Y. state assembly passes gender expression non-discrimination act, again". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ Fishbein, Rebecca. "State Senate Kills Bill Extending Human Rights Protections To Transgender NYers". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
  22. ^ Johnson, Chris (15 May 2018). "N.Y. trans rights bill killed in Senate committee". Washington Blade. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  23. ^ a b "Governor Cuomo Introduces Regulations to Protect Transgender New Yorkers from Unlawful Discrimination". October 22, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  25. ^ Cuomo Planning Discrimination Protections for Transgender New Yorkers
  26. ^ Governor Cuomo Announces New Regulations Protecting Transgender New Yorkers from Discrimination
  27. ^ New York State Assembly: S04691, accessed July 26, 2011
  28. ^ New York Times: "Pataki Signs Bill Raising Penalties In Hate Crimes", accessed July 26, 2011
  29. ^ Buffalo News: "Last year saw progress on issues of gay rights", accessed July 25, 2011
  30. ^ Human Rights Campaign: New York Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine., accessed July 25, 2011
  31. ^ Village Voice: John Surico, "The Insane Immaturity of Albany's Gay Defamation Case," June 2, 2012, accessed June 2, 2012
  32. ^ New York Times: "Label of Gay Is No Longer Defamatory, Court Rules," May 31, 2012, accessed June 2, 2012
  33. ^ Governor Cuomo Announces Executive Actions Banning Coverage of Conversion Therapy
  34. ^ New York Gov. Cuomo announces regulations to prevent gay 'conversion therapy'
  35. ^ Regulations: Notice and Disclaimer
  36. ^ Advocates speak in favor of banning gay conversion therapy in Erie County
  37. ^ [1]
  38. ^ [2]
  39. ^ Ulster County Legislator Proposes Conversion Therapy Ban For Minors
  40. ^ [3]
  41. ^ "Latimer proposes ban on conversion therapy". June 2, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018. 
  42. ^ "NY Assembly passes conversion therapy ban for kids". Wall Street Journal. June 16, 2014. 
  43. ^ "US: New York Senate blocks 'gay cure' therapy ban, trans anti-discrimination bill". PinkNews. June 21, 2014. 
  44. ^ N.Y. Assembly votes to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth; Senate passage unlikely
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ NY A04958 | 2015-2016 | General Assembly