Denver is the latest city to propose a ban on “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youths.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock (D) and two city council members introduced the proposal on Monday, which will be reviewed by the City Council’s Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee on Wednesday. If passed, the ban would be the first anti-conversion therapy legislation to pass in the state of Colorado.
“These terrible practices that target our youth, simply for being who they are, are dangerous and immoral. We’re going to make sure that they never happen within our city,” Hancock said in a Monday statement.
The proposed ban hopes to protect LGBTQ youth form “dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” according to the mayor. The proposal aims to target state-licensed therapists within the city of Denver who claim that being gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness.
Conversion therapy is rooted in the belief, often found in religious communities, that sexuality and gender identity is a choice, and something that can be changed through therapy. Dozens of government health organizations have condemned the practice, including the American Psychological Association, which said the risks of conversion therapy include “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.”
The American Psychoanalytic Association described the controversial practice as going “against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment,” which “often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes.”
In his Monday statement, Hancock recalled when his brother came out as gay to his family and was met with love and support.
“All our LGBTQ+ youth here in Denver deserve the same, and they should be proud of who they are,” he added. “We celebrate who they are, and they should feel welcome and that our city is open to them. Their safety, well-being and happiness are our highest priority with this proposal.”
Colorado lawmakers have previously tried to ban conversion therapy throughout the state, but the proposed legislation has failed four times, according to CBS.
Fourteen states, in addition to Washington, D.C., have banned conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth. Other states that have outlawed conversion therapy for minors include New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Washington and Hawaii.