On Friday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis banned gay conversion therapy. He signed the bill on the day before the start of LGBTQ Pride Month.
Polis, a Democrat, has penned two bills related to LGBTQ rights, The first bill banned conversion therapy for minors and the second allowing transgender and intersex individuals to update their gender on their birth certificates without having to provide proof of surgery by a court order or legal name change.
Polis is the first openly gay politician ever elected in the United States.
“Colorado has joined a growing list of states that have banned so-called conversion therapy,” Polis said in a tweet on Friday. “It’s a torturous practice that has long been widely-discredited by medical and mental health professionals.”
Conversion therapy is a controversial practice which claims it can use conditioning to make an individual who identifies as gay become straight. In most cases, the practice is done to children without their consent through the permission of their parents.
A new study estimates that nearly 20,000 LGBT children ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old will receive conversion therapy in states where the practice has not been banned. The study was conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
Another study cited by the Human Rights Council and conducted by San Francisco State University revealed that children who were made to go through conversion therapy are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than LGBTQ children that are rejected by their parents.
The Human Rights Council states that the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and several other health and psychiatric organizations oppose conversion therapy.
The legislation signed by Polis, HB19-1129, states, “The bill prohibits a licensed physician specializing in psychiatry or a licensed, certified, or registered mental health care provider from engaging in conversion therapy with a patient under 18 years of age. A licensee who engages in these practices is subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate licensing board.”
Colorado is the 18th state to ban the practice. Earlier in the week Maine also banned conversion therapy.
Mike Pence has openly supported conversion therapy even though he denied supporting it during the 2016 presidential campaign. At one point during his 2000 congressional campaign, he stated, “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Polis signed the bill on the same day that Trump received major criticism for a tweet he made about celebrating Pride Month. The criticism stems from Trump’s repeated offenses against transgender rights including a military ban and rolling back nondiscrimination protection for trans people put in place by the Obama administration.
In January of 2016, Trump stated that he was strongly considering appointing a Supreme Court justice that would overrule gay marriage.
“Governor Polis has been a trailblazing champion for LGBTQ rights and representation, both in Colorado and for LGBTQ people across the nation,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign said on Friday.
“While there is much work to be done to ensure that all of us are treated equally under the law, this is a great day for progress — for Colorado and for our community,” he added.