The conservative Mormon state has passed a ban on gay ‘conversion’ therapy.
Utah has become the 19th US state to pass a ban on gay ‘conversion’ therapy on minors. The ban has given hope to LGBTQ campaigners that other conservative states might also pass bans.
The so-called therapy, which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association, refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.
Last year, Republican senators in the state successfully blocked a bid to ban the discredited practice after they amended it to only outlaw therapies “that cause nausea, vomiting, or other unpleasant physical sensations,” and also involved “electric shock or other electrical therapy.”
But this time, the ban was passed, and with the backing of the Mormon church, but only on the condition that faith leaders could still provide spiritual counselling for parishioners and family members.
Republican senator, Craig Hall, who sponsored the motion, applauded the ruling going into effect on Tuesday (21 January), saying: “This measure will truly save lives.”
And Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the ruling gave campaigners a “lot of hope” especially as bans on the practice are expected to be debated in states like Virginia, Kentucky and Texas later this year.
Utah has joined New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York state, Massachusetts, Maine and Colorado in having bans on the practice. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also have bans in place.
Despite this piece of pro-LGBTQ legislation coming into effect in the state this week, just last week, Utah’s governor stopped a HIV-prevention scheme after he opposed “sexual innuendos” that were being used on the packaging of condoms.
A spokesperson for Gary Herbert said: “The Governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention.
“He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign’s branding.”