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Utah legislature unanimously passes ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy

Posted at 3:41 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-17 18:18:18-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature has unanimously approved a bill that enshrines into law a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

House Bill 228 did not start out that way. LGBTQ rights groups accused its sponsor, Rep. Mike Petersen, R-Logan, of seeking to legalize the discredited practice of trying to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. But through negotiations on the bill, he agreed to enshrine a ban on conversion therapy while offering some guidelines for therapists.

With those changes, it won the support of Equality Utah — which originally opposed the bill. HB228 passed a final vote in the Utah State Senate on Friday and now goes to Governor Spencer Cox, who has signaled support for it.

"This is politics at its very best. When stakeholders from all sides can come together, listen to each other, learn from each other and discover common ground," Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams told FOX 13 News on Friday. "We hope in the future, lawmakers will continue that pattern that model of bringing stakeholders together and finding best policy."

Utah originally had a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy as an administrative rule (which functions essentially as a law tied to a therapist's license) after efforts to pass a law through the legislature failed. It was the result of a deal at the time between the governor's office, LGBTQ rights groups and even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But last year, FOX 13 News reported that lawmakers signaled they would be revisiting the ban, raising concerns among Utah's LGBTQ community. HB228 codifies into law a permanent ban.

"This was an extraordinary moment in Utah's LGBTQ history. We had both chambers unanimously pass a ban on conversion therapy for minors," Williams said.