Thousands of gay activists protested Thursday night outside the Mormon Church headquarters in Salt Lake City over recent comments from a church leader that gay people live an immoral life and can be changed.
According to the Associated Press, activists staged a silent protest in response to comments made Sunday by Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at the 180th semiannual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City.
“In his remarks Packer said some would argue that gays ‘were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?’” the AP reported.
Packer, 86, is next in line for the church presidency, and his remarks, which included opposition to marriage equality, have drawn a national outcry, particularly for their ability to harm the self-image of young gay Mormons wrestling with their sexuality.
The AP reported that, “On Thursday night, activists dressed in black to symbolize the loss of young, gay Mormons to suicide lay head-to-toe on the sidewalks circling the church's six-block downtown campus.”
The Church issued a statement afterward that acknowledged the right of the activists to protest and voice their opinion.