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The Mormon church wants you to know they think it’s OK to put young queer people through traumatising conversion therapy

Lily Wakefield October 18, 2019
Mormon church conversion therapy

A woman holds a sign at a rally in downtown Salt Lake City demand that the Mormon Church change their policy of doing "Worthiness Interviews" with children that may involve sexual matters.(George Frey/Getty)

The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon church, has said that is opposes a proposed ban on conversion therapy for minors in Utah.

In February the Mormon Church, which dominates politics in Utah, agreed not to resist the bill, which includes some religious freedom protections for “clergy members or religious counsellors”.

However the church has now made a u-turn on its decision, and in a statement on Tuesday (October 15) said the bill “fails to protect individual religious beliefs”.

It also said that it would restrict the “right of parents to guide the development of their children”, and that it believes “faith-based perspectives have an important and ethically appropriate role in professional counselling”.

It added: “It fails to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development of children.”

The church’s “family services” branch also sent a letter to the Utah Department of Commerce raising its concerns about the bill.

In the letter, the church said: “Regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, some behaviours related to or associated with sexual orientation can be destructive and psychologically unhealthy.

“It is often appropriate and ethical to provide reasonable therapies to assist a client in modifying behaviours and expressions that the client has identified as inconsistent with the client’s own self-determined goals and self-defined well-being.”

It added: “Certainly a minor client with gender dysphoria who desires to change, through appropriate therapies, extreme or destructive ‘behaviours that express aspects of gender’ should be able to find help from responsible therapists.”

Mormon church
The St. George Utah Temple in southwest Utah, is the first temple completed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah.(Raymond Boyd/Getty)

According to NBC News, Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said: “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 percent 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.”

More: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, conversion therapy, mormon church, Utah

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