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Fight to ban controversial Conversion Therapy

Photo from WNY Against Conversion Therapy Facebook page

Two state lawmakers from Buffalo are calling to ban a controversial practice known as Conversion Therapy.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked with the coordinator of the newly formed organization fighting against a method they say is anti-gay.

"Defined as a range of harmful, misguided and just disproven treatments that aim to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual or from gay to straight," said Paul Morgan, coordinator of Western New Yorkers Against Conversion Therapy.

New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan and State Senator Tim Kennedyoutline the proposed billFriday morning during a news conference at Hallways in Buffalo.

Lawmakers said the use of this therapy has been "condemned" and it's time to protect youth across the state.  

Morgan tells WBFO News if approved it would outlaw what is considered a "discredited practice" that preys on children.

"The American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychology Association, the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the National Association of School Psychologist  and the American Academy of Pediatrics  have all declared that Conversion Therapy is harmful", said Morgan.

Western New Yorkers Against Conversion Therapy.

Morgan noted  in some instances the practice is being conducted "underground".

"It's extraordinarily dangerous.  There's a lot people walking in our society right now that have been damaged by this," Morgan stated. 

Other states such as New Jersey, California and Virginia have passed laws to protects children from this practice.

Vulnerable young people deserve safeguards against the harmful practice of conversion therapy which has been shown to cause long-term damage to the physical and mental health of individuals subjected to it. Physicians, mental health practitioners, counselors and the organizations that represent them have long discredited and condemned the use of conversion therapy, and it’s time the state heed their call to protect New York’s youth. The state should ban this disproven, ineffective and harmful practice, and foster an environment of support and acceptance to celebrate the great diversity of the Empire State," said Senator Kennedy.

The Western New York Anti-Violence Project is also fighting for an end to Conversion Therapy.

“The social climate created by the tolerance of so-called 'conversion therapy' encourages violence against LGBTQ persons, by conveying the impression that they are somehow abnormal, ultimately less the fully human, and need not have the legal protections to which all should be entitled.  This is not unlike the effect of hate speech in other instances. Additionally, allowing such a discredited practice to be used on minors furthers the idea that children are the property of their parents, rather than persons deserving of appropriate rights and freedoms," said Ellen Brauza,  Executive Director, Western New York Anti-Violence Project.

"Violence is on the rise," noted Morgan. 

Assemblyman Ryan initially thought it was only a problem in other states, but was surprised to learn it is happening right here in New York.

Ryan tells WBFO News "there are license professional performing this type of treatment.  It's harmful and should be stopped.”