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At close of legislative session, conversion therapy ban advocates vow fight is not over

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – As the 2019 legislative session drew to a close Thursday, advocates for banning conversion therapy for Utah minors were still reeling from the sudden death of House Bill 399, a measure that would have outlawed the practice. 

“It’s devastating, I’m still emotionally drained from it,” said Ermiya Fanaeian, 18, who led a protest against amendments to the bill laid out by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R – Clearfield) last week. 

The amendments would prohibit licensed therapists in Utah from performing any conversion therapy practice that causes physical discomfort, including electric shock therapy or practices that induce vomiting, but would not keep therapists from talking about changing one’s sexual orientation. 

Advocates for H.B. 399 said the amendments completely negate the purpose of the bill, and that allowing licensed therapists to continue to encourage changing one’s sexual orientation leads to depression and suicide among LGBTQ youth. 

“I’ve been told many times in my life that I should change. that being a trans person is wrong and that you can somehow change yourself…and so that’s a horrible thing to hear as a young person myself, I know how that feels,” said Fanaeian. She said during the interim, she plans to find more young LGBTQ voices to join the cause to end conversion therapy in Utah, which has been banned in 16 states as of Thursday. 

She also hopes to gain and keep the support of legislative leadership on this issue. 

Equality Utah championed the measure. Thursday that organization’s executive director Troy Williams said advocates for banning conversion therapy were taking time to let the dust settle from the loss before they would regroup and figure out how to move forward. 

New legislation could be on the horizon for the 2020 legislative session, but Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City) said right now there is nothing specific planned. 

“This issue isn’t going away and I look forward to finding solutions for this sensitive issue,” said Hall. 

If you or anyone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Other bills that have to do with or include LGBTQ rights this legislative session are: the hate crimes bill, which passed the legislature, and two vital records bills that have to do with legally changing one’s gender.

The bills having to do with legally changing genders were tabled and moved to the interim session.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 Utah team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 Utah News at 4 Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time.. Read More...

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