Praise be

Utah’s Republican governor acts to ban conversion therapy on minors

Utah Governor Gary Herbert (Photo: @GovHerbert | Twitter)
Utah Governor Gary Herbert (Photo: @GovHerbert | Twitter)

Utah’s governor has instructed officials to draw up new rules banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors. The new rules are now subjected to a public consultation period, but if they’re adopted, they could come into effect from late January 2020.

If so, it would make Utah the 19th US state to outlaw the practice on minors.

Related: Gay politician moves to repeal New York ban on conversion therapy. Wait, what?!

Local lawmakers have attempted to introduce legislation banning conversion therapy in the past. The latest attempt stalled in the state legislature earlier this year.

Conversion therapy is the discredited practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation through psychotherapeutic means. It doesn’t work and usually does far more harm than good.

On Tuesday evening, Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, proposed a statewide ban on the practice. He has directed the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Utah Department of Commerce, to file the new rule, according to CNN.

His new rules adopt the same wording as the legislation proposed earlier in the year by Republican Rep. Craig Hall.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Herbert 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.”

Although the Hall’s proposed legislation failed, it crucially had the backing of the Mormon church.

The Church of Latter-Day Saints holds great political sway in Utah. Although it teaches that homosexuality is a sin, and is opposed to same-sex marriage, it backed moves to ban licensed therapists from administering ‘conversion therapy’ to minors on the proviso that its ministers could still offer advice if asked questions about sexuality.

The Governor’s move was welcomed by Rep. Hall, who said, “I urge adoption of the proposed rule so we can end conversion therapy once and for all in this state.”

Related: The Mormon church won’t oppose Utah’s conversion therapy ban

Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah, said, “We are profoundly grateful to Governor Herbert and the Psychological Licensing Board for the thoughtful and meticulous in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy.

“We have no doubt the adoption of this rule will send a life-saving message to LGBTQ+ youth across our state.”

The wording of the new rule will be published Dec. 15. The 30-day public consultation will end Jan. 14, and the new rule will hopefully take effect Jan. 22, 2020.