The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has come out against a proposed ban on so-called conversion therapy practices in Utah.
Pushback from the Mormon Church comes as Utah government leaders consider a rule that would prohibit therapists from offering the harmful service, according to KUTV in Salt Lake City. Utah’s Department of Family Services is considering changes to the Psychologist Licensing Act and Mental Health Professional Practice Act.
“As detailed in the comments submitted by Family Services, the Church is concerned that the proposed professional licensing rule is ambiguous in key areas and overreaches in others,” reads a statement from the church. “For example, it fails to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development of children."
“We therefore oppose the proposed rule in its current form and respectfully request that it be appropriately amended to address the concerns raised in Family Services’ comments, or that Utah’s lawmakers provide statutory guidance on this important issue,” the statement continued.
The lengthy statement also stressed “the Church denounces any abusive professional practice or treatment.”
Equality Utah has signaled strong support for a ban on the destructive practice.
“Let's be clear. Studies have found that more than 60% of children subjected to conversion therapy attempt suicide. It's long past time to protect youth from this dangerous practice,” the LGBTQ organization tweeted regarding the Mormon Church’s position.
The state licensing board in July gave early approval to the rule change, which is supported by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, according to KUTV.
The Mormon church is headquartered in Utah and holds significant political influence in the state.
Leaders of the church recently said it only recognized gender assignment based on biological sex at birth. Church president Russell Nelson in September also reaffirmed the church’s opposition to marriage equality, but said it would no longer refuse baptism for the children of individuals in gay or lesbian relationships.