The Mormon Church is back in the land of “say one thing, do another,” because it’s now backtracking on a law that would ban Utah psychologists from using LGBTQ conversion “therapy” despite saying earlier that they wouldn’t get in the way of such a law.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints voiced opposition to the measure Tuesday night, saying the measure didn’t protect “religious beliefs,” adding that it didn’t take into consideration the “important realities of gender identity in the development of children.”
That last phrase is a perfect descriptor of conversion therapy itself. Perhaps trans people would be perfectly comfortable with their gender identity if the Religious Right wasn’t constantly browbeating them with hate and hypocrisy…
Utah’s Republican Governor Gary Herbert (who’s also Mormon) requested the legislation after an earlier measure died in the House. The Church didn’t take a position on that one and it’s anyone’s guess as to why Mormon leaders are raising objections now.
For what it’s worth, the American Psychological Association firmly opposes conversion torture. The Church’s stance is also a definitive blow to anyone hoping Utah would join 18 other states in banning or restricting the unscientific practice.
The fact that the church is reversing itself is the very height of hypocrisy.
Conversion therapy has been widely debunked for the cruel practice that it is, and McKrae Game, one of its main defenders for years, has since come out as gay and spoken out against the practice. The Mormon Church, then, is defending something that even many of its previous supporters now believe is toxic.
20-year-old Nathan Dalley is just one of conversion therapy’s victims and he knows all too well how ineffective and awful it is. The Guardian reports:
He said he was told to snap a rubber band on his wrist every time he felt attracted to men, and a therapist also scrutinized his posture, his walk, his gestures and interests. The experience deepened his feelings of depression and culminated in a suicide attempt.
“It takes all these insecurities you have about yourself … and convinces you they’re accurate,” he said Wednesday. He said church leaders haven’t followed through on their position of neutrality.
The church’s decision has come as a shock to LGBTQ advocates, including Troy Williams, director of the advocacy group Equality Utah. His organization is trying to work with the Church to see if there’s a compromise to be found that doesn’t dilute the substance of the ban. (I’m not holding my breath on that one.)
Williams reiterated that research shows there’s a link between conversion therapy and increased suicide attempts among transgendered individuals.
Who knows. Perhaps LDS leaders are reacting to recent statements made this month by Dallin G. Oaks, a prominent leader within the Church. Oaks claimed that a person’s birth gender is “essential to the plan of salvation” and that the Church didn’t know “why same-sex attraction and confusion about sexual identity occur.” (Gee, I don’t know. Maybe religious conservatives have something to do with it. Just a hunch.)
Given how much time these right-wing extremists spend obsessing over gender identity and who responsible adults are having sex with, you would think they’d find a few minutes to focus on actual problems like, say, poverty.
It’s clear what their real priorities are.
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