Gay Utahn Justin Utley has delivered a moving plea for gay rights laws in the state.

He told lawmakers about his experiences as a gay man in Utah, being a victim of ‘ex-gay’ conversion therapy at a young age, being fired from his job for being gay, and losing his partner in the most tragic circumstances.

He said: “I’m here because I am still a proud Utahn born and raised with these values: compassion, optimism, that Utah is a place where every person has the same opportunity to earn a living free from discrimination.”

“My hope is that together, we can build a bridge of understanding, and begin to build a state that we can all be proud of.”

There is no protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender expression in Utah.

Same-sex marriages were briefly allowed in the state last year after a court battle, but a ban was re-instated just eight days later.