Utah to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors


'The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart rending.'

After a long struggle to reach an agreement, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Tuesday that his administration will ban harmful anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy on youths. Utah will become the 19th state with such a ban.

Herbert, a Republican, said he has directed the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing to file a new rule that will ban conversion therapy on minors in the state.

"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," he said. The rule will apply to "all licensed therapists practicing in Utah."

His announcement notes that Equality Utah and the LDS Church are among the groups supporting the decision.

Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have long opposed the dangerous practice of trying to use therapy to convert people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah's largest religious group, also opposes the practice and does not permit its therapists to use it. But a bipartisan bill to ban the practice died earlier this year after the legislature's Republican leadership attempted to significantly water down the bill.

Hebert, who had supported both the original bill and the weakened substitute, apologized in March to LGBTQ youth for what he called "an enormous misunderstanding." In June, he asked his commerce department to craft a regulatory approach.

The LDS Church announced last month that it would oppose the regulations as originally drafted, citing concerns that the language was "ambiguous in key areas" and overreaching in others. The state regulators initially refused to release the results of the mandatory public comment period, though last week, it did so in response to a public records request.

Out of about 2,460 individuals and organizations weighing in on the proposed rule, less than 5% opposed it, according to a Salt Lake Tribune review.

After extensive negotiation, the key groups agreed on language that Herbert said came from the original legislative proposal. A similar regulatory process is also underway in Virginia.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.