UTAH: Republicans Gut GOP Bill To Ban Ex-Gay Torture After Testimony From Anti-LGBT Christian Hate Group

The Associated Press reports:

Supporters of a proposed gay conversion therapy ban for minors in conservative Utah said it was gutted Tuesday by changes that would allow therapists to have some discussion about changing sexual orientation with young patients.

The changes approved by GOP lawmakers in committee come after opponents marshalled a strong pushback against the plan that’s similar to bans in 15 other states.

Republican sponsor Craig Hall said he’s against the revised version of his bill because it wouldn’t stop the practice associated with higher rates of depression and suicide attempts. He’s going to work to reverse the changes to the bill, which is now headed for the full House of Representatives.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, left the morning hearing fuming about the committee’s decision. The majority of the committee, he said, sided with “quack therapists” and “snake oil salesmen” by approving a version of the bill that would be easily sidestepped by practitioners of conversion therapy.

The substitute bill by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield [photo], focuses on prohibiting practices that cause pain or physical distress to a minor patient. Family Watch International — an Arizona-based organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-LGBT extremist group — brought its resources to bear against Hall’s version of the bill.

Fliers with a photo of a smiling, heterosexual couple on their wedding day were piled around the committee room, directing readers to the organization’s website.

Last month the Mormon Church announced that they would not oppose the original version of the bill. Hit the second link above for more about today’s circus.

The SPLC reports on Family Watch International’s founder:

Sharon Slater forged close ties over the years with virulently anti-gay African activists like Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa — an enthusiastic supporter of the country’s “ Kill the Gays ” bill — who have helped her lead campaigns to oppose the decriminalization of homosexuality. While these laws impose long prison terms on LGBT people, Slater insists that her position is a compassionate one: by reinforcing a culture inimical to homosexuality, she claims, LGBT people will be encouraged to unlearn their attraction, in turn neutralizing the threat they present to what the Christian Right calls the “natural family.” The rights of LGBT individuals, she argues, are “fictitious.”