Utah rule likely to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy despite objections of influential church

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU/Tribune/CNN) - A Utah commerce chief is refusing to hit the brakes on an LGBTQ conversion therapy ban for kids despite objections from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

A bill to ban it failed to pass the legislature earlier this year, despite the church having no opposition to it, prompting protests by LGBTQ rights groups and those who have gone through the practice.

If no changes are made to the proposed Department of Commerce rule, it will go into effect on Tuesday.

Utah would join 17 states and the District of Columbia in banning the practice, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The church wants to see changes made before the ban is approved. However, not everyone agrees with that.

On the final day for public comment, the church’s family services division submitted a 26-page comment opposing the rule.

In a statement, the church said in part, “It fails to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development in children ...”

They continue, saying “We therefore oppose the proposed rule in its current form and respectfully request that it be appropriately amended to address the concerns.”

When Nathan Dalley heard the church had objections to a proposed rule to ban conversion therapy, he wasn`t surprised.

“I was like, ‘OK, shocker,’” he said.

Dalley said he spent seven months undergoing different types of aversion “treatments.”

“It takes a lot of insecurities that you have and then a professional affirms those insecurities as valid, and that does a lot of damage to someone,” he said.

It’s a traumatizing experience that still sticks with him years later.

“Those that enter into conversion therapy are 30 percent more likely to attempt suicide. To be frank, people are dying from this practice. I had friends who have passed away from it. I`ve attempted suicide because of it,” Dalley said.

He said he saw hope on the horizon when the governor directed a professional licensing committee to draft rules regulating the practice.

“It does concern me that really key parts of the rules will change. It could lead to loopholes where trans kids would receive conversion therapy still,” Dalley said.

The state psychologist licensing board has already given preliminary approval to the ban.

“All mainstream medical professionals nationwide have discredited conversion therapy as a dangerous practice,” said Sen. Derek Kitchen, a Democrat from Salt Lake City.

Still, lawmakers say they don`t know if the church`s statement will actually sway the board`s opinion.

“We have really high suicide rates in this community. We have a lot of youth who are looking to lawmakers and community leaders for guidance and support. And at the end of the day, this is a dangerous and discredited practice in the medical field,” Kitchen said.

Dalley said he`s hopeful that the ban will pass. “It really is a matter of people staying alive or not,” he said.

Copyright 2019 KSTU via CNN. All rights reserved. Gray Media Group, Inc., contributed to this report.