ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County has become the first municipality in upstate New York to approve a ban on conversion therapy on minors, which attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people.
There are currently no licensed conversion therapy practitioners in Erie County, although speakers at a recent hearing on the law testified that the activity is often concealed under the guise of other therapeutic measures.
The legislation was passed unanimously in the Erie County Legislature. The new law will make the practice of conversion therapy on minors a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or one year in jail.
“Simply put, this is a child protection measure,” said Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke, who was the bill’s sponsor. “Referring to this practice as ‘therapy’ obscures the fact that it involves the abuse of children. Listening to the victims who have struggled with the aftermath of this often violent and debilitating practice is heartrending.”