ALBANY, New York (Reuters) - The New York State Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to make it a crime to view child pornography on the Internet, as lawmakers rushed to close a loophole opened by a state appeals court just a week earlier.

State law currently prohibits the possession and promotion of child pornography. But a May 8 ruling by the New York Court of Appeals held that viewing child pornography on the Internet without taking further action such as printing or saving files does not necessarily constitute possession.

The ruling caused an instant furor among state lawmakers, who are acting with unusual speed to pass corrective legislation.

The bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday would make it a felony to "knowingly access with intent to view any obscene performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than sixteen years of age."

"This legislation sends a strong message that watching child pornography for any reason is completely unacceptable," Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said in a statement.

The bill, which mirrors language in federal law, will now go to the state Assembly. Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who sponsored the proposal, is confident it will garner enough support to pass, a spokeswoman said.

About 15 states have criminalized the viewing of child pornography, many of them in response to court decisions, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

(Reporting by Dan Wiessner; editing by Dan Burns and Todd Eastham)