Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) apologized on Thursday (7 March) to LGBTI youth in his state after failing to pass a bill banning conversion therapy on minors.
The bill died in Utah’s legislature last week after Republicans, including Herbert, requested changes to it unsupported by Democrats.
Utah was poised to become the 16th state banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy on minors. The bill had bipartisan support until the requested changes. Further, the Mormon Church also declared they would not oppose the bill.
At the time, Herbert explained his decision supporting the changes. He said he wanted to reduce suicide rates (of which Utah has the fifth-highest in the nation), a possible consequence of conversion therapy, but also ‘protect the rights of parents in counseling with their children in these sensitive matters’.
Activists staged a sit-in outside Herbert’s office following the stagnation of the bill. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox sat and spoke with the activists.
Following this, Herbert issued an apology in the form of a letter. Journalist Ben Winslow posted a photo of the letter.
Read Herbert’s apology below:
I realize there is much I do not understand about the issues that LGBTQ youth face every day. I also believe that you deserve to be heard. You deserve our help. And you deserve a future where can you [sic] feel safe, welcome, and loved in our state. My intention in supporting the fourth substitute was never to harm you.
We have had an enormous misunderstanding, and I am sorry.
I met with Representative Hall this morning, and we agreed to continue working on this.
I am prepared to make sure that we develop good policy that protects our LGBTQ youth. I invite you to work with us as we work with the legislature and all those affected to protect you and end abusive therapeutic practices in Utah.
Rep. Craig Hall (R) was the sponsor of the fourth substitute version of the bill, which reflected various changes by Republicans.
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