GOP Lawmakers Push Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy in Utah

Two Republican lawmakers have proposed a ban on any treatment intended to change the sexual orientation of a minor. If passed, any therapist in Utah found practicing gay conversion therapy would risk losing their license. The Mormon Church has promised no opposition to the plan, a significant development given Utah’s conservative stance and the church’s long history of encouraging the practice. LGBQT youth suicides in the U.S. have risen in recent years, spurring a more critical conversation surrounding gay conversion. Currently, conversion is banned in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Conversion therapy has been discredited by major health organizations such as the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association.

“Conversion therapy has been proven to be not effective, and is particularly harmful to youth,” said Rep. Craig Hall, the plan’s chief sponsor. Lawsuits have challenged previous bans on the grounds of religious freedom rights. The Mormon Church has denounced the conversion therapy though it does not condone same-sex marriage. “This is the Utah we want. This the Utah we’re all going to fight for, for the rest of our time so we deliver a place to you that you are welcome,” Republican Rep. Dan McCay said during a news conference at the Utah State Capitol on Feb. 21 in Salt Lake City.