Gay conversion therapy ban in Colorado clears first test

DENVER — A ban on gay conversion therapy passed a Democratic-controlled House committee on Tuesday, but Republicans, like they have in previous years, appear poised to defeat the measure once the bill moves to the Senate.

“Conversion therapy is 100 percent child abuse. It is a form of torture,” said Mathew Shurka, a survivor of conversion therapy.

Shurka, who travels around the country promoting a ban, told lawmakers it’s time Colorado joins nine other states in banning the practice — especially in teens.

“I went through a period of suicide for two years. I knew it wasn’t working,” Shurka said.

“I needed to defeminize, according to my therapist. What that meant for me was I wasn’t able to talk to my mom and my sisters for three years,” Shurka said.

Shurka’s story is a common one, according to UCLA.

There are about 698,000 LGBT Americans who have undergone conversion treatment and 350,000 LGBT Americans are treated as teens.

But there is another side to the story.

“A lot of people believe you can’t change. Well I’m living proof that you can,” David Dejacamo said.

Dejacamo said after 30 years of living as a gay man, conversion therapy made him a straight man.

“I learned to be a guy and gave it all up and have never gone back,” he said. “I’ve never done that activity ever again and I’ve never been happier.”

Dejacamo’s story isn’t convincing the American Psychological Association.

“There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” it said.

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