Practitioners of ‘gay cure’ therapy tried to cure a woman of lesbianism by making her carry a bag of rocks.
21-year-old ex-Mormon Alex Cooper, of Salt Lake City, spoke out about her experiences coming out to her parents aged 15.
Mormon leaders insist there are zero gay people in their church, and the faith has long been an alleged hotbed of ‘gay cure’ practices.
Cooper’s case is no exception – and rather than embrace their gay daughter, Cooper’s Mormon parents sent her off to stay with Tiana and Johnny Siale – local ‘gay cure’ practitioners.
She claims that the pair – who did not have any license or training to operate as a therapist – subjected her to cruel and unusual punishments, including beatings, forcing her to stand facing a wall for up to 18 hours a day, and making her wear a backpack full of rocks.
Cooper told CBS outlet KUTV: “It’s like sending you to therapy to change your eye colour… it’s not going to work. What it’s going to do is damage you.”
The teen was forced to stay with the Siales for eight months, living in captivity and surviving a suicide attempt.
She says many in the Mormon-dominated local community were aware of the pair’s methods, but did not raise a hand to help her.
Eventually she was allowed to attend a local school – and sought help through the juvenile court system via a Salt Lake City attorney.
Years after securing her right to live openly, Ms Cooper now wants to stamp out the threat of ‘gay cure’ therapy to other teens.
The LDS Church said in a statement: “The Church denounces any therapy that subjects an individual to abusive practices.
“We hope those who experience the complex realities of same-sex attraction find compassion and understanding from family members, professional counsellors and church members.”