SALT LAKE CITY — Utah psychologists would be prohibited from practicing so-called conversion therapy on LGBTQ kids under proposed state regulations that got an early nod of approval from a state licensing board on Thursday.
The vote came after Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called on state regulators to craft rules following the failure earlier this year of a proposed law that would have banned the practice on people under 18. That bill was pulled during the state’s legislative session after it was changed significantly by GOP lawmakers.
Herbert said he was troubled by the reports he had heard about the practice.
He and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox applauded the vote in a statement Friday, saying “psychological intervention should be governed by science, not politics.”
A final vote on the rules isn’t expected until the fall. If it’s approved, psychologists who attempt to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity could face discipline up to losing their license.
Troy Williams with the group Equality Utah said the proposed rules would protect children from the harmful practice. “All of our children deserve to be safe and supported,” he said in a statement.
The proposed rules would have largely the same effect as the law as originally introduced, Williams said. He thanked the governor for intervening.
Herbert came under criticism from Williams and other LGBTQ activists after he expressed support for the changes that supporters said gutted the original intent of the law. The governor later apologized to young protesters and pledged to keep working on the issue.