According to local news station WBFO this Tuesday, a New York legislator has introduced a bill that would ban the practice of “gay conversion therapy” in Eerie County.
The bill got special attention thanks to its acronym, PENCE — an intended reference to vice president-elect Mike Pence, who has made statements in the past suggesting that he supports public funding to advance the debunked and psychologically-destructive practice which claims to turn gay people straight.
The “Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment” bill would ban the practice of conversion therapy locally and was put forward by Erie County legislator Patrick Burke.
“I think it is an abusive practice. Some of the things that are actually carried out in conversion therapy are pretty disturbing,” Burke said to WBFO.
“This practice has no business in our society and really the idea of trying to sexually desensitize children is disgusting and distributing.”
“Mike Pence is probably going to have the most power of any vice president in the history of our country and he has openly advocated for conversion therapy,” he continued. “I want that to sink into people. I want them to realize it’s a serious issue of abuse of children flatly, whether they are gay or not, it’s abuse, then you have a man who is going to have enormous power over all of us, who advocates for it.”
Burke said when he speaks to citizens about the issue, many are surprised to learn it is not illegal. There is no state law, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a ban earlier this year ordering mental health professionals not to practice on those under the age of 18.
Burke, a Democrat, said he hopes all lawmakers consider his proposal bill as soon as possible, and expects it to be debated sometime next month and into the new year.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore