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Republican politician will put restrictions on traumatising gay ‘cure’ therapy with support from Mormon church

Nick Duffy November 27, 2019
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Governor of Utah Gary Herbert

Governor of Utah Gary Herbert (Neilson Barnard/Getty)

The governor of Utah will bring forward restrictions on traumatising gay ‘cure’ therapy with support from the Mormon Church.

The state’s Republican governor Gary Herbert will bring forward a new rule via the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL), after negotiations with leaders from the LGBT+ community and the state’s powerful Mormon church.

The development comes eight months after Republicans killed a bill on the issue in the state legislature, prompting Herbert to issue an apology to LGBT+ young people.

Utah Governor: Rule will ban conversion therapy forever in our state.

In a release dated Tuesday, the governor said: “I have learned much through this process. The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart rending, and I’m grateful that we have found a way forward that will ban conversion therapy forever in our state.

“I’m grateful to the many stakeholders who came to the table in good faith, with never-ending patience. I’m also grateful to the dedicated board members at DOPL for their work that enabled us to come together to craft this rule.”

The restrictions on conversion therapy stops short of direct legal bans imposed in other states.

However, the move has been welcomed by LGBT+ campaigners.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, said: “We are profoundly grateful to governor Herbert and the Psychologist Licensing Board for the thoughtful and meticulous manner in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy.

“We are pleased that the new rule will mirror the legislation that was drafted and introduced earlier this year. We have no doubt the adoption of this rule will send a life-saving message to LGBTQ+ youth across our state.”

The Mormon church is supporting the efforts to restrict conversion therapy
The Mormon church is supporting the efforts to restrict conversion therapy (GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)

Mormon leaders, who had previously opposed any rule that did not provide exemptions for religious counsellors, also welcomed the bill.

Marty Stephens of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said: “We are opposed to conversion therapy and our therapists do not practice it. However, we are grateful for the clarifications the new rule provides, and we support its adoption.

“We thank the governor, his staff and the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for finding a good solution which will work for all concerned.”

The rule will be published on December 15, paving the way for it to go into effect in January 2020.

Governor Gary Herbert has made surprising progress on LGBT+ rights.

A one-time opponent of same-sex marriage, Herbert has recently sought to forge a moderate stance on LGBT+ issues.

He signed a bill earlier this year to finally add long-blocked hate crime protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a message to LGBT+ young people in March, he said: “I realise there is much I do not understand about the issues that LGBTQ youth face every day.

“I also believe you deserve to be heard. You deserve our help. And you deserve a future where you can feel safe, welcome, and loved in our state.”

Related topics: conversion therapy, gary herbert, mormon church, Utah

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