Mormon Church urges Utah not to bar "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ minors

CBS News/October 16, 2019

Salt Lake City, Utah — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it's against a proposed ban in Utah of so-called conversion therapy by psychologists for LGBTQ minors, reports the CBS affililiate here, KUTV.

In a statement released Tuesday night, the church said it opposes a pending state regulation that would bar psychologists from using the therapy, which seeks to change the sexual orientation of those minors.

The rule got an initial green light from the state's licensing board in July.

The church said in part, "We teach the right of individuals to self-determination and the right of parents to guide the development of their children. We also believe faith-based perspectives have an important and ethically appropriate role in professional counseling.

" … The Church is concerned that the proposed professional licensing rule is ambiguous in key areas and overreaches in others. For example, it fails to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development of children."

The church wants the rule to take into account changes its Family Services unit wants.

The group Equality Utah, which fights for LGBTQ+ rights, tweeted its opposition to the state's stand, saying, "Let's be clear. Studies have found that more than 60% of children subjected to conversion therapy attempt suicide. It's long past time to protect youth from this dangerous practice."

Governor Gary Herbert called for new rules after hearing reports about conversion therapy.

After an earlier bill banning the practice failed, Equality Utah's Troy Williams quit the governor's suicide prevention task force, saying, "Equality Utah will not be window dressing" and claiming Herbert had turned his back on LGBTQ youth.

The American Psychiatry Association, which opposes conversion therapy, doubled down on its stand last year, saying it "does not believe that same-sex orientation should or needs to be changed, and efforts to do so represent a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and by undermining self-esteem when sexual orientation fails to change. No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed.

The American Medical Association has also called on lawmakers to ban the practice. More than a dozen states have.

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