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Utah bans LGBTQ conversion therapy — again

Governor Cox conversion therapy
Posted at 9:59 AM, Mar 23, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox has signed a bill into law banning LGBTQ conversion therapy for a second time in Utah.

At a private ceremony attended by groups as varied as the Utah Eagle Forum and Equality Utah, the governor signed House Bill 228 into law. It enshrines into law a ban on "conversion therapy," a widely discredited practice of attempting to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Previously, Utah had a ban on the practice in administrative rule related to therapist licensing.

Originally, LGBTQ rights groups claimed HB228 sought to do the opposite of what it does now. When Rep. Mike Petersen, R-Logan, introduced the bill in the 2023 Utah State Legislature, it was criticized as an attempt to legalize the practice. FOX 13 News first reported last year that some lawmakers on Capitol Hill had been exploring undoing the ban.

But through negotiations, the bill was amended to permanently ban conversion therapy while also offering some guidelines for therapists. The bill passed unanimously out of the legislature.

"We don’t agree on every issue on Capitol Hill. We didn’t agree on every issue this session. But we are committed to always engaging with each other, working through conflict, and finding common ground where we can," Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said in an email.

The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention group, praised the conversion therapy ban, but called on the Utah State Legislature to reverse course on legislation it passed instituting a "moratorium" on gender affirming health care for transgender youth.

"It’s remarkable what can happen when people are focused on finding solutions," Gov. Cox said in a statement to FOX 13 News. "This bill passed both houses unanimously, thanks to the unflinching efforts of Senate President Adams, Reps. Mike Peterson and Brady Brammer, Equality Utah, the ACLU of Utah and many others coming together for the common good. This is truly the Utah Way and I’m grateful to all those involved."