Legislature Chair Peter Savage, Legislator Patrick Burke, and community members joined Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz as he signed a local law banning conversion therapy in Erie County into effect. Sponsored by Legislator Burke, the local law is meant to ensure the physical and psychological well-being of minors by prohibiting the practice of conversion therapy in Erie County.
Conversion therapy (or reparative therapy) is any formal treatment that aims to change the sexual orientation and gender identity of a minor. This includes attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual or from heterosexual to homosexual.
“By signing this measure into law we are moving to protect young people across Erie County who may be experiencing their own identity issues and should not have attitudes and behaviors that may be contradictory to their natures forced on them,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “I thank Legislator Burke for bringing this issue to the forefront in our county and for being a strong advocate for our youth.”
Legislator Burke added, “More often than not, politics operates in a gray area but this is one instance where our decision was black and white. Today’s signing has been a long time coming and we are pleased to extend this protection to minor residents in Erie County.” The practice of conversion therapy is opposed by nearly all leading health agencies including the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American College of Physicians, the World Health Organization and many others. Violations of the local law are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail.