Utah has become the 19th state to ban conversion therapy, a widely debunked practice that targets LGBTQ youth, and it’s one of the most conservative states to do so, The Associated Press reports.
While there still some dissent within the state, supporters see this as a chance to boost other such efforts in typically right-wing states, noted Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“It’s really given people a lot of hope,” he told the AP, adding that his organization has called for bans across the U.S. Virginia and is currently considering banning the practice. Texas and Kentucky may follow suit later this year.
The measure to ban conversion therapy has the support of the hugely influential Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose leaders had opposed an earlier version because it didn’t provide certain exceptions for clergy. Support came later on after supporters offered assurances that church leaders and members who are therapists would be able to provide counseling for congregation members and families.
The measure’s original sponsor, GOP Utah Rep. Craig Hall, said he’s glad the rule has become law, noting in a statement that it will prevent dangerous practices while offering protection to state healthcare officials.
“This measure will truly save lives,” he said.
Despite this, the measure still has its detractors. They argue it would prohibit parents from getting help for children who have “unwanted” gay feelings and prevent therapists from being able to discuss sexuality with their young patients. Concerns have also been raised that the measure could become an issue during the 2020 legislative session, the AP reports.
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