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Mayor Hancock, Council Members Move to Ban Conversion Therapy

DENVER – Acting on the recommendation of Denver’s LGTBQ Commission, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, the Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships and Council members Robin Kniech and Jolon Clark are proposing to prohibit conversion therapy for minors in the City and County of Denver. Denver would be the first jurisdiction in Colorado to pass such a prohibition on the dubious practice. 

“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,” Mayor Hancock said. “When my brother came out to our family all those years ago, we knew that our love and support was what he needed. All our LGBTQ+ youth here in Denver deserve the same, and they should be proud of who they are. We celebrate who they are, and they should feel welcome and that our city is open to them. Their safety, wellbeing and happiness are our highest priority with this proposal.”

“Every mainstream medical and mental health organization has denounced the practice of conversion therapy,” said Denver LGBTQ Commission Chair Arash Jahanian. “We have worked hard with the city and our community partners to protect Denver’s youth from this harmful practice. We hope to join a growing list of cities and states to pass a conversion therapy ban, and take another step in making our community a welcoming place that embraces LGBTQ people for who they are.”

The proposal, submitted by the Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships, will protect LGBTQ+ youth from dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This proposal is aimed at state-licensed therapists, operating their practice in the City and County of Denver, who are falsely claiming that being gay or transgender is a mental illness, and therefore taking advantage of parents and harming vulnerable youth.

"When a young person begins to realize they might be gay or lesbian, or that their gender doesn't match expectations, they need love and support, particularly from trained professionals like therapists,” Councilwoman Kniech said. “The discredited practice of trying to ‘convert’ someone's gender or sexual orientation place youth at serious risk of suicide. I'm proud Denver is joining dozens of other cities and states to prohibit this dangerous practice in our community."

“We should be supporting and uplifting every young person in our city, not turning a blind eye to discredited therapies that are exploiting our youth at a vulnerable point in their lives,” Councilman Clark said. “No matter what, Denver is going to stand united in making sure our youth, no matter sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, have support they need to be healthy and happy.”

Conversion therapy is based on the false claim that being LGBTQ+ is a mental illness that needs to be cured – a view that has been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and every major medical and mental health group for decades. These practices are known to be extremely dangerous and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide.

The proposal will be presented to City Council’s Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m.

Map of state and municipal jurisdictions with conversion therapy laws