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Utah becomes 19th state to ban conversion therapy

Utah becomes 19th state to ban conversion therapy
A rainbow flag is seen outside of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Utah became the 19th state in the nation on Wednesday to ban the widely discredited practice of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender conversion therapy.

Gov. Gary Herbert asked for a ban against the discredited practice last fall, which was supported by LGBT groups and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has many followers in the state.

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The new rule, which took effect Wednesday, bars minors from receiving conversion therapy. State lawmakers said it also protects legitimate interests of therapists and patients.

The new rule uses language from House Bill 399 and threatens Utah psychologists and therapists with the loss of their license if they violate the regulation. The rule was a compromise after the LDS Church claimed an earlier version of the ban didn't properly address religious freedom or parental rights.

RELATED Germany bans 'conversion therapy' for minors, certain adults

"I am thrilled by the adoption of the administrative rule which ends conversion therapy once and for all in this State," legislator Craig Hall said in a statement. "This measure will truly save lives."

The American Medical Association issued a statement in November supporting federal and state efforts to ban conversion therapy.

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"Conversion therapy needs to end in the United States given the risk of deliberate harm to [LGBT] people," AMA Board Member William E. Kobler said. "Conversion therapy has no foundation as scientifically valid medical care and lacks credible evidence to support its efficacy or safety."

RELATED Transgender conversion therapy linked to psychological distress, study says

Organizations like the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, however, have fought such bans on freedom of speech grounds.

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