Denver, CO — This evening the Senate State Affairs committee considered hours of testimony on HB17-1156, which would ban the practice of “gay conversion” therapy on minors in Colorado. As the senate sponsor, Senator Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) stated, “this practice has been proven as not only ineffective but also extremely harmful to children and young adults who receive it. This bill wouldn’t stop a parent from taking their child to a religious institute for counseling; it would only stop a mental health care professional from performing a practice that’s been disproven, discredited, and denounced by mainstream society and medical groups.”
During committee testimony, numerous members of the medical field pointed out that the state should follow the judgment and guidance of the major medical associations that denounce any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. HB17-1156 replaces this practice of “gay conversion” with treatment centered around acceptance, support, and understanding.
Senator Fenberg released the following statement after the final committee vote:
“If LGBTQ+ orientations are not considered a mental illness by the medical world, then why do we treat it as such in Colorado law? I’d say that’s government overreach, not this bill. This bill takes the guidance of major medical professional groups and associations without taking away either parental discretion or hindering religiously-based options.
No matter how you feel about homosexuality, there’s no doubt conversion therapy is harmful. I’m disappointed by my Republican colleagues for choosing their previous assumptions over the facts presented to them during the hearing.”
As the testifiers repeatedly highlighted, the bill does not impact either religious or non-licensed counseling services and it does not compromise parental rights as parents can still solicit services from pastors, clergy, and others involved with religious ministry and instruction and practicing nonprofessional therapy. Even with the overwhelming support for this bill, the GOP majority in the committee killed the bill for the third year in a row.