Utah governor proposes rule to ban conversion therapy for minors

Utah governor proposes rule to ban conversion therapy for minors
© Cameron Lancaster

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) on Tuesday proposed a rule to ban gay conversion therapy in his state for minors, slamming it as a “harmful practice.”

Herbert said in his announcement that he directed the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, a division of the state’s Commerce Department, to file the new rule. The governor said the proposal, which came after “an exhaustive process,” is backed by an array of “public leaders, organizations, and policy groups.”

“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,” said Herbert. “I’m grateful to the many stakeholders who came to the table in good faith, with never-ending patience.”

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“We are profoundly grateful to Governor Herbert and the Psychologist Licensing Board for the thoughtful and meticulous manner in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy,” added Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. “We have no doubt the adoption of this rule will send a life-saving message to LGBTQ+ youth across our state.”

The rule is based on a bill that failed to pass the Utah state legislature despite having support from LGBTQ rights groups, suicide prevention advocates and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The legislation was altered by socially conservative legislators to the point that it ultimately lost the backing of its original sponsors, according to Fox 13

The rule will be subject to another round of public comment prior to it taking effect in January.

Eighteen states and at least 50 cities and counties across the country have laws or regulations "protecting youth from this harmful practice," according to the Human Rights Campaign.