A New York legislator has introduced a bill that would ban the practice of conversion therapy for LGBT people in Erie County, local news station WBFO reported Tuesday.
The proposal made headlines Wednesday for its acronym: PENCE, in a purposeful reference to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who has supported the practice designed to “change” its subjects from gay to straight.
Erie County legislator Patrick Burke proposed the Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment bill, which would ban the practice of conversion therapy locally.
“I think it is an abusive practice. Some of the things that are actually carried out in conversion therapy are pretty disturbing,” Burke said in an interview with WBFO.
“This practice has no business in our society and really the idea of trying to sexually desensitize children is disgusting and distributing,” he continued.
Burke told the station that invoking Pence’s name was intentional because he supported the practice as governor of Indiana. During his 2000 congressional campaign, Pence’s website stated that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Burke, an independent Democrat, said he wants it to really “sink in” that Pence supports the practice.
“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 told WBFO. “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 told the station that he unsuccessfully pushed for the issue over the past two years and is hoping to build up more support for it this time around.