Mormon church speaks out against LGBTQ conversion therapy ban

The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints is opposing a proposed ban on conversion therapy in Utah.
A man walks past the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sept. 14, 2016.Rick Bowmer / AP file
By Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints is opposing a proposed ban on conversion therapy in Utah, just months after it said it wouldn't stand in the way of a similar rule under consideration.

The church said in a statement posted Tuesday night that the regulatory rule prohibiting Utah psychologists from engaging in LGBTQ conversion therapy with minors would fail to safeguard "religious beliefs" and doesn't account for "important realities of gender identity in the development of children."

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Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said he was surprised by the church's stance and called its statement "profoundly disappointing.”

“The proposed rule would do nothing more than protect LGBTQ children from conversion therapy — a life-threatening practice that has been condemned by all of the state’s and the nation’s medical and mental health authorities," he said in a statement shared with news media. "Studies have found that more than 60% of children subjected to conversion therapy attempt suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death among Utah’s children, and LGBTQ youth are especially vulnerable. It’s long past time to protect our state’s youth by prohibiting this dangerous practice.”

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert called on state regulators to craft the rules after a similar bill died in the Legislature despite the church not opposing it.

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Brooke Sopelsa contributed.