A representative for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out against gay conversion therapy on March 23. Mormon spokesman Eric Hawkins expressed his stance on a local Salt Lake City television program.
Hawkins claimed the LDS rejects all gay conversion therapies that include allegedly abusive methods, reports World Religion News. Hawkins went on to say he hoped Mormons would show compassion for homosexuals.
The statement by Hawkins represents a major shift in LDS church policy. In the past, the church discouraged members from even using the word “homosexuality,” opting for “the sin that dare not speak its name.”
The Mormon church’s move away from gay conversion therapy comes after the American Psychological Association announced that no amount of therapy can alter a person’s sexual orientation.
“Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be ‘cured,’” reads the APA website.
Rejection of the controversial therapy is not the LDS' only recent shift regarding homosexual church members. The church reportedly stopped asking gay members to marry a person of the opposite sex, according to Kendall Wilcox, co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges.
While the Mormon Church has altered its stance towards homosexuals on many issues, it still takes a hard line against gay marriage. Wilcox said that in many regards, the LDS has “the same old tragic stories of homophobia and hostility.”
The church’s stringent opposition to same-sex marriage has caused many Mormons to leave the church, reports NBC News.
“People are fed up and just don’t want their name associated with the church anymore,” Utah attorney Mark Naugle told NBC.
In November 2015, the LDS announced it considers gay couples “apostate,” and barred their children from being involved with the church.
“The church has long been on the record as opposing same-sex marriages,” said Hawkins.