Brabenec opposed ban on gay “conversion” therapy

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, a Deerpark Republican, was one of only 11 lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly to oppose a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday that prohibits professional therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of patients younger than 18.

The ban on so-called “conversion therapy” – described as cruel and traumatic by its critics – applies only to licensed mental-health professionals, who would face professional misconduct sanctions ranging from a reprimand to license revocation and fines for violating the law. It does not apply to counseling by clergy or other non-licensed figures.

The Assembly had passed the bill twice before, but it stalled in the Republican-led Senate until Democrats won a majority and took control this month. Both chambers passed it with little dissent on Jan. 15. The vote in the Senate was 57-4, with Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, among those voting against it; in the Assembly, it was 141-7.

Explaining his vote in opposition, Brabenec told the Times Herald-Record by email that he saw no problem with conversion therapy if a teenager chose to undergo it. “My vote against banning conversion therapy was because I don’t want to see a teenager especially a 16 or 17 year old who wants to engage in this on the basis of their own free will denied the opportunity to do so,” he wrote. “If the bill only banned forced conversion therapy, or on young children who cannot make this decision for themselves, I would have voted no.”

On Friday, Cuomo signed the conversion-therapy ban and another bill known as GENDA that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

“As the most progressive state in the nation and as the home of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, New York has always been on the front lines fighting for full protections for every individual,” he said in a statement. “By signing into law GENDA and a ban on the fraudulent practice of conversion therapy, we are taking another giant step forward in advancing equal justice for every New Yorker – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

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