On Monday, Denver City Council passed a measure that bans licensed therapists from subjecting minors to conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy, also known as ex-gay therapy, attempts to forcibly change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people.
Methods can range from aversion therapy — conditioning that produces pain or an adverse physical reaction when same-sex activity is suggested or shown — to more extreme methods like sleep deprivation or electroshock therapy.
Under the measure, which was approved unanimously by the Council, licensed therapists or mental health practitioners found to be subjecting LGBTQ-identifying minors to the therapy would face fines and potential censure by their respective licensing bodies.
There is currently no statewide law banning conversion therapy, but Democrats who control the legislature are expected to push for a similar bill this year.
Conversion therapy has widely been denounced by most psychological and mental health organizations, with the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office saying there is “no valid scientific evidence” to support claims that the therapy is effective in altering sexual orientation or gender identity.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who was motivated to sign the ban into effect because of his experience seeing his brother come out as gay, celebrated the Council’s vote and expressed pride in taking steps that he believes will protect LGBTQ-identifying youth.
He also thanked Council members Robin Kniech and Jolon Clark for sponsoring the bill pushing for the ban.
“[Monday’s] vote to ban conversion therapy is a great example of our city coming together and saying with one voice that we will never allow our LGBTQ+ youth to be the targets of these dubious practices, and that we are here to support them,” Hancock wrote in a Facebook post. “Who they are is something to be celebrated, not maligned, and Denver will always be there to lift up our youth and ensure that they have the opportunity to grow up safe, happy and healthy.”