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Traumatising conversion therapy for LGBT children has finally been banned in Mormon state Utah

Lily Wakefield January 22, 2020
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)

Traumatising conversion therapy is now officially illegal for LGBT+ children in Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS church), commonly known as the Mormon Church, is headquartered.

The anti-LGBT+ LDS church dominates politics in Utah and around a third of all Mormons in the US live in the state.

Most US states have a Mormon population of between zero and five percent, but according to the latest LDS figures, 68 percent of the Utah population is Mormon.

The proportion of the population who are members of the LDS church is greater than the proportion of Utah women who have jobs.

In October, 2019, the church announced that it opposed a proposed ban on conversion therapy in the state.

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… 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.”

A month later, after assurances were added that churches would still be able to provide spiritual counselling, the LDS church u-turned and said it would not resist a ban on the traumatising and debunked practice of conversion therapy.

The change in law became final on Tuesday January 21, making Utah the 19th US state to ban the practice.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the original sponsor of the proposal, Republican Utah representative Craig Hall, said: “This measure will truly save lives.”

A study published in 2019 found that “transgender people who are exposed to conversion efforts anytime in their lives have more than double the odds of attempting suicide compared with those who have never experienced efforts by professionals to convert their gender identity.”

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

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