Denver moves to ban LGBT conversion therapy; state expected to follow

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DENVER -- Mayor Michael Hancock announced Monday the city will move to ban conversion therapy for minors before the end of the year.

Conversion therapy is the practice of using therapy techniques to attempt to convert an LGBT individual into to a straight individual.

"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 in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

The mayor said when his brother came out to his family, they supported him. Hancock said all young people in Denver deserve the same support and should be proud of who they are.

Hancock said he was acting on the recommendation of the city's LGBTQ Commission. City Council members Robin Kniech and Jolon Clark joined him in putting forward the proposal.

"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 in Monday's statement. “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."

Denver would be the first city in Colorado to ban conversion therapy.

City Council will begin debate on the proposal at their Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m.

Denver appears to be getting ahead of the Colorado General Assembly.

For years, Democrats in the House have attempted to pass a ban on conversion therapy statewide however Republicans, who controlled the State Senate, consistently voted it down.

With Democrats taking control of the State Senate in January, a ban is expected to move through swiftly.

LGBT conversion therapy has been denounced by most mental health professionals.

The American Psychiatric Association said conversion therapy efforts "have serious potential to harm young people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure."

However, some individuals say it works.

"A lot of people believe you can’t change. Well, I’m living proof that you can,” David Dejacamo, told FOX31 earlier this year. He said he became straight after living 30 years as a gay man.

According to the mayor's office, there are currently no known conversion therapy sessions in Denver.

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