New church policy removes call for harmful reparative therapy, but is a far cry from LGBT acceptance.
Washington - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest civil rights organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, and Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, the largest and oldest Mormon LGBT advocacy group in the world, today call on the Mormon Church to go further in its acceptance of LGBT people. The church has rid its new policy handbook of a call for professional counseling for those who experience same-sex attraction. This is a small, but positive step forward, as the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that "reparative" therapy - like the kind formerly advocated by the Mormon Church - is unhealthy and harmful.
"It is good to see the Mormon Church has finally recognized what science has told us for years - people cannot change their sexual orientation and attempts to do so are harmful," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "But the church has a lot further to go. Too many kids are struggling with their identities and self-worth. Church leaders must let them know they are loved and worthy just the way they are."
Although new church policy no longer calls for professional counseling for LGBT people, it still groups homosexual behavior with: attempted murder, forcible rape and spouse abuse. The handbook also says homosexual behavior is permanently noted in one's church records, however heterosexuals found to commit "sexual sin" outside of marriage receive no permanent annotations.
"The policies in the new Church Handbook of Instruction continue to class homosexual behavior as a choice and as a sin," said David Melson, President of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. "It states that in order to be considered 'worthy,' an LGBT church member must refrain from all sexual activity throughout their life and must remain in the closet in most discussions and conversations. Evidence has shown that being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person is a biological function that takes place prior to birth - something that comes from God - and is not a choice, and therefore cannot rationally be considered a sin. To tell someone that they are less than worthy, or that they should never respond to natural sexual attraction, or that they should live their life dishonestly by living in the closet, has the potential for incredible harm to that individual. We applaud the LDS Church for taking this small step, but we strongly urge them to go further, to respect the diversity that God has created within His children, and to withdraw from policies and behavior that harm rather than heal both church members and non-members."
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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