Utah - Mormon Church Against Ban On Conversion Therapy


Photo Credits: Out in Jersey

In Salt Lake City, Utah, the conversion therapy is opposed by the American Psychological Association and the regulatory rule prohibiting Utah psychologists from engaging in LBGTQ conversion therapy with minors got an initial green light from the state's licensing board in July. A few months ago, the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints said it wouldn't stand in the way of a similar rule under consideration. Now, they are against a proposed ban.

As the Guardian reports, the opposition comes after one of the religion’s top leaders, Dallin H Oaks, said this month that a person’s gender assigned at birth is “essential to the plan of salvation” and that they don’t know “why same-sex attraction and confusion about sexual identity occur.”

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions. There is no reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical bodies warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful.

The church said the regulatory rule prohibiting Utah psychologists from engaging in LBGTQ 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.”

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."

In Utah, members of Mormon church accounts for nearly two-thirds of the state’s residents, and nearly every state lawmaker. It is obvious their influence is great.

Troy Williams, executive director of the LGBTQ rights group Equality Utah, said in a statement: “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 … 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,” he added.

Nathan Dalley, 20, said he grew up a member of the faith and went through conversion therapy shortly after he turned 16. He said he was told to snap a rubber band on his wrist every time he felt attracted to men, and a therapist also scrutinized his posture, his walk, his gestures and interests. The experience deepened his feelings of depression and culminated in a suicide attempt.

“It takes all these insecurities you have about yourself ... and convinces you they’re accurate,” he said Wednesday. He said church leaders haven’t followed through on their position of neutrality.

Conversion therapy is certainly very dangerous and, after all, it’s not effective.

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