Utah Becomes 19th State Protect To LGBTQ Youth From Conversion Torture

(stock photo via Depositphotos)

The National Center for Lesbian Rights reports conservative Utah has become the 19th state to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing adopted statewide rules protecting queer minors from the dangerous approach sometimes known as ‘ex-gay’ therapy.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert directed the Division to develop the rules last year after proposed legislation to address the issue narrowly failed to pass the Utah Legislature.

In addition to the 19 states, the District of Columbia and more than 60 local municipalities have adopted similar protections.

Every leading medical and mental health organization in the United States, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics,  has rejected conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous for minors.

“Utah’s emergence as the most conservative state to address this issue shows how rapidly attitudes toward LGBTQ youth are changing in every part of this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter.

Troy Williams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH issued a statement that read in part: “Every reputable science-based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exacerbates depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. We are grateful to Governor Herbert and the Board of Psychologists for acting swiftly on behalf of LGBTQ youth.”

Studies show LGBTQ youth who are subjected to conversion therapy are more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.

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Pulse Nightclub Survivors Host ‘Ex-Gay’ Rally In Orlando

Over the weekend, two survivors of the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, hosted a rally promising ‘deliverance to the LGBTQ community through religion.’

According to the Orlando Sentinel, tens of people gathered at the rainbow amphitheater at Lake Eola Park. Members of the group Changed Movement told the attendees that they have “chosen identity in Christ” over being homosexual.

The rally, which was staged much like a religious service, included testimonials from members who say they left the LGBTQ ‘lifestyle’ after finding religion.

Among them were Luis Javier Ruiz, 36, (above) and Angel Colon, 29, who survived the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, which left 49 dead and 53 more injured. Since the deadly shooting, the two say they have become heterosexual through religion.

After healing from their injuries, the two founded Fearless Identity, a religious ministry which, according to the official website, promises to bring “hope and understanding to the LGBTQ community and the church through education, biblical clarity, and support in a judgement free environment for those seeking the option to change.”

The duo promise, however, that the ‘option to change’ is not about so-called conversion therapy.

Ruiz made a point of underscoring that message at the rally on Saturday telling those gathered, “I want to make a public declaration: This is not conversion therapy, this is not electrotherapy, this is not shock therapy.”

“This is all the Holy Spirit, this is the man that died on the cross,” he continued. “This man never cheated on me, never slept with my best friend. He’s the man on the cross.”

Prior to the so-called ‘Freedom March,’ LGBTQ advocates in Orange County called for a statewide ban on conversion therapy.

Brandon Wolf, another survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and an LGBTQ advocate, attended a county commission meeting last week asking his local leaders to “take a stand against conversion therapy.”

And Wayne Besen, of Truth Wins Out, which works to expose conversion therapy and the ‘ex-gay myth,’ interviewed Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan who shared her own painful experience with conversion therapy.

“I knew I was attracted to women, but I thought I could pray the gay away,” said Sheehan, the first openly gay elected official in central Florida.

Sheehan told Besen that, as a teen, she attended a church that promoted ‘ex-gay’ therapy

During meetings with the group, Sheehan was promised that an orange mucous was going to “emanate from me as the demon of homosexuality left my body.”

Sheehan told Truth Wins Out her message to people considering taking part in an ‘ex-gay’ ministry program is to “get some counseling outside of the church and really get a handle on where you are at, because I think they will take advantage of you, they will make you dependent and they will not do what’s in your best interest.”

Another Former Leader Of ‘Ex-Gay’ Movement Comes Out, Apologizes For Harm Caused

Yet another former leader of the so-called ‘ex-gay movement’ has come out as gay, and issued a public apology for his part in advocating for the harmful practice of ‘conversion therapy.’

In a post on his Facebook page, McKrae Game apologized for his part in founding Hope for Wholeness, which promised to aid those who “struggle with homosexuality find the freedom to live in sexual and relational wholeness.”

From OUT:

Game, who ran the organization for two decades, said its stance that LGBTQ+ people can be cured of their identities is “wrong.”

“I know that creating the organization … was in a large way causing harm,” he wrote. “Creating a catchy slogan that put out a very misleading idea of ‘Freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ’ was definitely harmful.”

Game also asked for forgiveness for telling LGBTQ+ that their feelings are “wrong, bad, sinful, [and] evil.”

“It’s all in my past, but way too many continue believing that there is something wrong with themselves and wrong with people that choose to live their lives honestly and open as gay, lesbian, trans, etc.,” he wrote. “Learn to love yourself and others.”

All of the nation’s major mental health and medical associations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have denounced conversion therapy as not only ineffective but dangerous. The harmful practice has been linked to anxiety, depressions and suicide.

To date, 18 states have banned the practice on LGBTQ youth.

According to the Williams Institute, nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. are survivors of the treatment.

Game, married to a woman before coming out as gay earlier this year, is just the latest in a long line of former conversion therapy advocates who have reversed their position on ‘ex-gay’ therapy.

Nine ex-gay leaders who left the movement have called for the treatment to be banned.

Game recently sat down with the Post & Courier regarding his newfound revelations:

Former Conversion Camp Scammers Arrested For Child Trafficking

Husband and wife who previously ran 'conversion therapy camps' have been arrested in Texas on child trafficking charges

The ringleaders of a former ‘conversion therapy camp’ have been arrested in Texas on child trafficking charges.

From local NBC News affiliate KXAN:

More than a year after boys were removed from a nonprofit in Burnet County, the couple who ran it are facing trafficking charges. A grand jury indicted Gary Wiggins, 49, and his wife Meghann Wiggins, 34, on Trafficking of Persons charges.

They are both accused of “knowingly” trafficking four underage boys and “through force, fraud or coercion” making them “engage in forced labor or services.” The two ran Joshua Home, which officials described as a place that “purports to be a residential home for troubled boys.”

According to the indictment, the trafficking allegedly occurred between May 17, 2018 and July 25, 2018. Eight boys between the ages of 10 and 17 were removed after a multi-agency investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, labor violations, fraud, licensing violations and human trafficking.

Watch the report from KXAN below:

The Advocate reports the couple has hopped from state to state setting up so-called ‘conversion therapy’ camps where they tried to torture the gay out of young boys.

Before the Wigginses set up the home in Missouri, they ran the Blessed Hope Boys Academy in Robertsdale, Ala., where Wiggins was referred to as Brother Gary. The shuttered school was the subject of a 20/20 investigation in which boys who’d been sent there spoke out against the abuse that included forced exercise, solitary confinement, withholding food, and various conversion therapy tactics.

“He took off his belt and started swinging,” Lucas Greenfield whose mother sent him to Blessed Hope because he is gay, told 20/20 in 2017.

“I’m going to get the demon out of you and make you straight,” Gary Wiggins told the boys he terrorized, Greenfield told police in 2016.

Survivors Of Pulse Massacre To Headline ‘Ex-Gay’ Event In Orlando

Pulse Nightclub massacre survivor Luis Javier Ruiz
Pulse Nightclub massacre survivor Luis Javier Ruiz
Luis Javier Ruiz (image via Facebook)

Two survivors of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting who say they are no longer gay have been announced to headline an “ex-gay” rally in Orlando, Florida.

Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon will take part in the so-called “Freedom March” scheduled to take place September 14 at Orlando’s Lake Eloa Park, located just minutes from the site of Pulse Nightclub.

As Newsweek reports, organizers of the event say the point of the rally is to celebrate “freedom from homosexual/transgender lifestyles by the grace and power of Jesus Christ.”

The Freedom March organization has held similar events across the U.S. The most recent rally was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June 2019.

Both Ruiz and Colon say they no longer identify as gay.

At the Freedom March in Washington, D.C. in May, Ruiz told NBC News, “I don’t want to tell everyone it’s a ‘gay-to-straight’ thing because God is not calling me to that.”

“I feel that I want to live in a life of purity,” he added. “I feel that through loving Christ, he will walk me out of any situation. I love the LGBTQ community, I love my family. There’s no hate here—there’s love.”

During the Pulse massacre, Colon was reportedly shot six times and was trampled by club-goers trying to escape the shooter. It would be two months before he would be able to walk again.

Colon recently appeared on a Christian podcast, The Roys Report, where he told the host the shooting was the impetus for him to renounce homosexuality.

“A couple months before June, I started praying to God and I told him, ‘Lord, You know my situation, You know my heart, You know I want to worship you. But I cannot do it on my own will,” he told host Julie Roys. “Please help me come back to you.”

And according to Colon, on June 12, at 2:02 a.m., “everything just changed in an instant.”

The two men have also founded an organization called ‘Fearless Identity,’ which encourages people to “reject their LGBT identities.” According to Newsweek, forming the group was the mens’ response to backlash for identifying as ex-gay.

Ruiz posted this video to YouTube where he explains being diagnosed as HIV-positive was what pushed him to ‘reject’ being gay.