Utah political leaders speak out about conversion therapy

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The debate over conversion therapy is not over in Utah.

After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints raised some objections to a proposed rule that would ban so-called conversion therapy, city, county and state leaders are speaking out about the practice.

The church said Tuesday night that it opposed the proposed rule in its current form because it “It fails to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development of children.”

Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City mayor

“To any young people in Utah who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity or those afraid to be open with family and friends, I’m here for you. You don’t need to be fixed, you need to be fully loved. I’m a happy, openly gay woman, living my best life with a family I love. If you need to talk please email mayor@slcgov.com and I will do all I can to help.”

Luz Escamilla, senator

“I stand with our LGBTQ community and support banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy. This last session I supported the ban and I want reiterate my support for it today. Conversion therapy must go! ”

Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake City councilwoman

“Conversion therapy is an abomination and should be illegal in Utah. We should be protecting children, not therapists. Conversion therapy has been condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and an array of scientific organizations. More than that: it is dangerous and just plain wrong.

“Leaders throughout the state should be using their voices to condemn this practice and demand a ban. I strongly support the proposed rule and if it is not adopted, I will do everything I can as mayor to advocate for a permanent ban of this practice from our state.”

Derek Kitchen, senator

“Conversion therapy is abuse and discredited by all mainstream medical professionals. Why is #LDS church protecting conversion therapists instead of the health, safety, & well-being of Utah children? Unacceptable, disappointing, and wrong.”

Angela Romero, representative

“It’s disappointing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refuses to highlight the tremendous harm that conversion therapy has done and continues to inflict on countless numbers of people.  It’s hypocritical to preach compassion while condoning this hateful and failed practice.  This issue is not about upholding the rights of religious beliefs. It’s about protecting youth from practices known to inflict harm.”

Utah Senate Democrats

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that has been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization. Attempting to force an individual to change their sexual orientation or gender identity is insulting, dangerous, and unethical. The harmful practice puts our youth at risk, and we support legislative action to ban its practice in Utah.

Due to the lack of action in the last legislative general session to ban conversion therapy, we believe the proposed Psychologist Licensing Board administrative rule is a reasonable, common-sense measure to end the harm this discriminatory practice is causing in our state until legislative action takes place. Conversion therapy is particularly detrimental when practiced on minors and can lead to depression, anxiety, homelessness and suicide.

We stand with our fellow citizens in the LGBTQ+ community and will continue to push for an end to conversion therapy in our state.”

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