Mormon church officials have agreed to meet with a gay Mormon support group.
Affirmation, a group that supports the Mormon LGBT community, were invited to meet with Fred Riley, commissioner of Family Services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Harold C. Brown, the agency’s past commissioner.
Mr Riley said:
“We believe that is always important to have the opportunity to be given better understanding of your points of view so that the church can appropriately understand your organisation and how best to be helpful.”
For more than thirty years the group has repeatedly invited church leaders to meet or attend their annual conference, but the only response was a letter last year declining.
Previously the Mormons, more correctly known as The Church of Jesus and the Latter Day Saints, believe that homosexuality and homosexual desire, are sinful and have encouraged gay men and women to enter into heterosexual relationships.
Dave Melson, Affirmation’s assistant executive director told the Associated Press:
“We’re pleased the church is opening up the possibility for dialogue.
“Affirmation has tried five or six times over the past 31 years to meet with church leaders. This is their second response.”
Affirmation states on its website that it would like to address the historical treatment of gays by the church, including recommendations for aversion therapies to ‘cure’ homosexuality.
The Church has previously used electric shock treatment to drive out homosexual desires.
In the 1990s, the church openly fought same-sex marriage legislation nationwide and in 2006 joined other religious denominations in asking Congress for a marriage amendment to the US Constitution.
Affirmation states on its website:
“Scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good.
“Although some mental health providers do attempt sexual orientation conversion, others question the ethics of trying to alter through therapy a trait that is not a disorder and that is extremely important to an individual’s identity.”
Mr Riley confirmed in an e-mail to the Associated Press that the meeting is scheduled for August.