Conversion therapy ban dies in Colorado Senate committee

DENVER – A bill that would have banned the practice of conversion therapy in Colorado has died in committee.

The Senate Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs voted 3-2 Wednesday to postpone the bill indefinitely. This marks the third time such a ban has failed to become law in Colorado.

House Bill 17-1156 would have prohibited licensed doctors, psychiatrists or therapists from using conversion therapy techniques on anyone under the age of 18.

Conversion therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to suppress feelings of same-sex attraction with the goal of changing a person’s sexual orientation. It’s currently illegal to practice the therapy on minors in California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Vermont.

One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy organization that supported the bill, issued a statement criticizing lawmakers for not approving the ban.

“Today, Republicans on the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee had yet another chance to do right by LGBTQ young people in our state. Instead — for the third year in a row — legislators have chosen politics over banning a harmful, discredited, and dangerous practice that attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” One Colorado’s political director, Laura “Pinky” Reinsch said. “LGBTQ young people who undergo this so-called ‘therapy’ are proven to be at risk of long-term depression, guilt, rejection, and even a heightened risk for suicide.”

The religious organization Colorado Family Action praised the committee vote, saying minors should have the right to choose conversion therapy.

“This bill sought to use media hype and unfounded claims to silence all counseling that would help a child address unwanted same-sex feelings. Colorado Family Action does not condone any therapy that would harm a patient. We support ALL children having the right to seek help and not be denied access to the licensed therapy they seek to help them live their lives according to their sincerely held beliefs,” the group said in a statement.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Office says there is “no valid scientific evidence” to support the practice of conversion therapy and leading scientific organizations such as the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association all oppose its use.

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