Non-‘Conversion’ in Utah

Seven months after HB 399 was put to the floor, the state of Utah’s bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” practices has passed with, apparently, the backing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gary Herbert announced the deal to craft a revised rule that effectively bans conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth.

“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,” Gov. Herbert said in a statement. “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 proposed rule is expected to be published Dec. 15 and could go into effect as early as Jan. 22, according to a news release.

Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, the original sponsor of the conversion therapy ban was thrilled by the announcement.

“We certainly seem to have a lot of consensus with a lot of different stakeholders in the state,” Hall said, “and I truly believe that we have language that both prevents ‘conversion therapy’ and also protects the interests of the patients and therapists.

“We are thrilled to have a deal to prohibit conversion therapy in this state once and for all.”

Mayor-elect Erin Mendenhall weighed in saying, “I couldn’t be happier to hear this news. Banning conversion therapy in our state is the right thing to do. I’m relieved and grateful that Governor Herbert and key stakeholders were able to work together on this rule, which will ultimately protect our children and their futures.”

Troy Williams, the director of Equality Utah, sent a statement: “Utah will soon be the 19th state in the nation to ban conversion therapy for minors. We are profoundly grateful to the Psychologist Licensing Board and the Herbert Administration for the thoughtful and meticulous manner in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ youth. Their actions today will no doubt save lives.”

While Williams couldn’t comment on why the LDS Church ultimately signed on to the proposed ban language, he did say that the recent discussions delved into the harms caused by “conversion therapy.” An EU survey last year found that more than 100 LGBTQ respondents reported that they had undergone “conversion therapy,” and all of them said they’d experienced suicidal ideation.

Marty Stephens, the LDS Church’s director of government relations, said in a statement that “we are grateful for the clarifications the new rule provides, and we support its adoption.”

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