Gay conversion therapy banned in Ulster County


KINGSTON – A new law was signed Friday in Kingston, making it illegal to professionally engage in the practice of gay conversion therapy upon minors, anywhere in Ulster County. The offense is now classified as a misdemeanor, subject to fines and/or jail time, plus unspecified licensing sanctions.

Celebrating the signing
by County Executive Michael Hein

The measure prohibits health care providers from trying to change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of children. Similar laws were enacted recently in Erie County, and the cities of Albany and New York; others are pending in Albany, Nassau, and Westchester counties.
A statewide bill passed in the New York Assembly each year since 2014, but remains hung up in committee at the State Senate. Governor Andrew Cuomo changed regulations last February, preventing insurance carriers from billing gay conversion. Since that time, advocates have been pushing for reform across New York.

Rindler: “… be who they truly are …”

Jeff Rindler, director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center, applauded the legislation.
“For close to 50 years, the LGBTQ community has strived to be proud, not ashamed of who we are, or told that we’re going to be damned to hell, or that we will never find love and companionship These are the hallmarks of those that perform conversion therapy,” Rindler said. “The only thing that is wrong and sinful, is not letting any child, or anyone, be who they truly are, and live their lives they way they know that they can, and should, live.”  
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein agreed.
“It’s not hard to figure out what the right thing to do is. If your beliefs are that the right thing starts with love, caring for your fellow human being, allowing people to love who they love, not imposing arcane beliefs that scar children, maybe that would be good policy,” Hein said. “I wish that this law wasn’t necessary. I wish we lived in a world where this couldn’t even be conceived of. But we don’t live in that world yet, so we work towards that end. I long for the day when our state passes this law.”
Hein credited County Legislator Jonathan Heppner (D-Hurley) with introducing the bill and getting it passed unanimously.
“As this practice, which has been disproven by medicine, by science, continues to go deeper and deeper in the shadows, today we are shining a light, and making a statement, and making it known, that it is not welcome in our community of Ulster County,” Heppner said.
Rindler noted that his organization is unaware of any local complaints, but that gay conversion usually occurs in rural and religious areas. An independent fictional film was shot in 2016, partially on location in Ulster County, covering the subject, called “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”
Hein said “This is an absurd situation, children being abused by zealots, who simply don’t want to accept basic science – but worse – have a worldview that says, they know better than we.”  

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