Mormon Eric Hawkins Makes An Unexpected Call On Gay Conversion Therapy

Mormon Church softens attitude on gays and conversion therapy.

There was a time when the LDS Church openly refused to use the word “homosexuality.” They simply, but with conviction, referred to homosexuality as “the sin that dare not speak its name.” For the Church, homosexuality has always been a grave sin. They have taken extreme measures to rid their members of this sin with conversion therapy, which sometimes includes shock therapy.

Recently, a TV channel (Salt Lake City, Utah), aired a program about a gay Mormon teenager, Alex Cooper. After she told her parents about her sexual orientation, they kicked her out of her house. Her parents were still able to keep in contact with her, and one day they said they wanted to take her to her grandparents house. Thinking they wanted to help her, she agreed to stay with her grandparents, but was actually dropped off at a strangers house where she was held captive, punished, and shamed for her sexuality. Alex Cooper eventually escaped and retells her story in a memoir called Saving Alex.

At the end of the TV clip, Eric Hawkins, an LDS spokesperson, said that the Church denounces any therapies that include abusive treatments. He said the Church hopes those people who feel same-sex attraction may find compassion from the society, family, Church members, and professional counselors. Reactions to the statement described it as “unexpected.”

According to APA (American Psychological Association), sexual orientation of a person cannot be changed by any therapies. It actually took a case like that of Alex Cooper to bring it to the notice of the LDS Church and to change their attitude towards conversion therapy. Joanna Brooks, an advocate for the LGBT community, said that she is grateful for the Church's new stance against the conversion therapy, however, it is also important that the Mormons accept gay people into their community.

Kendall Wilcox, co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges, said that the LDS Church is no longer asking its homosexual members to get married to an opposite-sex person as a solution to stay active in the Church. The default solution for them is celibacy. He also said that there would not be any gay Apostles, until that time when the Church officially changes its stance concerning chastity and marriage. When asked about the progress that the LDS Church has made from the time it considered homosexuality as an evil lifestyle choice to rejecting that idea recently, Wilcox said that in some cases the Church has been made an improved place for the LGBT community to come and worship, but in some areas there are still “the same old tragic stories of homophobia and hostility.”

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