Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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All homosexual or same-sex sexual activity is forbidden by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in its law of chastity, and the church teaches that God does not approve of same-sex marriage.[1] Adherents who participate in same-sex sexual behavior may face church discipline. Members of the church who experience homosexual attractions, including those who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual remain in good standing in the church if they abstain from all sexual relations outside an opposite-sex marriage,[2][3][4] but all, including individuals participating in same-sex sexual behavior, are allowed to attend weekly church worship services.[5] In order to receive church ordinances such as baptism, and to enter church temples, adherents are required to abstain from same-sex relations or any sexual activity outside a legal marriage between a man and a woman.[6][7]

The LDS Church previously taught that homosexuality was a curable condition[8][9] and counseled members that they could and should change their attractions and provided therapy and programs with that goal.[10][11]:13–19[12]:377–379 It now teaches that "individuals do not choose to have such attractions", its church-run therapy services no longer provides sexual orientation change efforts, and the church has no official stance on the causes of homosexuality.[13][14][15] A recent article on a church website states that, "While shifts in sexuality can and do occur for some people, it is unethical to focus professional treatment on an assumption that a change in sexual orientation will or must occur. Again, the individual has the right to define the desired outcome."[16] These current teachings and policies leave homosexual members with the option of attempting to change their sexual orientation, entering a mixed-orientation opposite-sex marriage, or living a celibate lifestyle without any sexual expression (including masturbation).[17]:11[18]:20–21

An LGBT pride flag in front of the Salt Lake City LDS temple

The LDS Church has campaigned against government recognition of same-sex marriage,[19] and the issue of same-sex marriage has been one of the church's foremost political concerns since the 1990s. For example, church members represented as much as 80 to 90 percent of the early volunteers petitioning voters door-to-door and 50 percent of the campaign funds in support of California Proposition 8 (2008).[20] The church supported a Salt Lake City ordinance protecting members of the LGBT community against discrimination in employment and housing while at the same time allowing religious institutions to exercise their religious beliefs while hiring or providing university accommodations, stating it remained "unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman."[21]

In November 2015, the church updated its policies regarding those in legal same-sex unions, stating that such couples are apostates from the church.[22] These policies also barred such couples' children—either adopted or biological—from being baptized, confirmed, ordained, or participating in mission service until reaching adulthood and obtaining permission from the First Presidency.[23] The church revised its policy again on April 4, 2019, stating that couples in legal same-sex unions would no longer be considered apostate, and that "children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval, if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make.” However, it also stated that it still considers homosexuality to be a "serious transgression," to be treated in the same way as "immoral conduct" in heterosexual relationships.[24][25]

The church's policies and treatment of LGBT people has long been a source of controversy both within and outside the church,[26][27] and a significant cause of disagreement and disaffection by members.[28][29][30]

History and background[edit]

Joseph Smith introduced "the new and everlasting covenant" as a temple marriage.

The entire body of LDS canonized scripture (including the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants) is silent on same-sex sexual activity except for the Bible.[31]:114 However, sexual immorality (coupled with forsaking a ministry) was described in the Book of Mormon as the "most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost."[32][33] The LDS Church teaches that the Bible forbids homosexuality.[34][35]:230[36]

Historian D. Michael Quinn has suggested that early church leaders had a more tolerant view of homosexuality, but leaders like then apostle Gordon B. Hinckley have stated that LDS leaders have always considered homosexual behavior a grievous sin.[37] The first recorded instance of a Church leader using the term "homosexuality" in a public discourse was First Presidency member J. Reuben Clark in a 1952 General Conference,[38] though, the term had been in use in the US since 1892.[12]:422 It appears that by the 1940s church leaders had a greater awareness of homosexual behavior in Utah since apostle Charles Callis had been assigned to cases of church members involved in homosexuality sometime before 1947[39][40]:271 and surveillance had been organized in 1945 to stop male-male sexual activity in the church's (now-demolished) Deseret Gymnasium steam room.[41]:307 Callis was succeeded in the appointment over homosexual cases by apostle Spencer W. Kimball in 1947.[40]:271[42] Kimball later shared this role with apostle Mark E. Petersen in 1959.[40]:381[41]:307[43]:147

Changes in teachings[edit]

Since the first recorded mentions of homosexuality by general church leaders, teachings and policies around the topics of the nature, etiology, mutability, and identity around same-sex romantic and physical attractions have seen many changes through the decades,[44]:45–46[45][11]:13–21 including a softening in rhetoric over time.[46][47]:169–170[48] In reference to the harsh rhetoric on homosexuality of the past, the apostle Todd Christofferson stated in a 2015 interview, "I think we can express things better." Regarding this subject, apostle Dallin H. Oaks said, "I know that the history of the church is not to seek apologies or to give them. We sometimes look back on issues and say, 'Maybe that was counterproductive for what we wish to achieve,' but we look forward and not backward."[49] A table summarizing some of the major shifts in official dialogue is found below.

Summary of changes in teachings on homosexuality
Topic Earlier teachings Transitional teachings Current teachings
Inborn No [50][51][52][53] Maybe[54] No position[15]
Causes Addiction,[55] masturbation,[56] pornography,[57] family dysfunction,[58][59][60] smothering mother,[61] distant or weak father,[62][61] sexual abuse,[63][64] selfishness,[65] speaking about it,[66] gender non-conforming dress or behavior[67] Biological and environmental factors[68] No position[69][70]
Identity & labels Wrong to use gay labels[71][72][73] Identifying as gay is acceptable[2][74]
Sexual orientation change efforts Electroshock aversion therapy recommended,[75][76] reparative therapy encouraged,[77] curable disease,[9][8] should be overcome[10] Conversion therapy may be appropriate,[78] denounces any abusive practices[79] Reparative therapy and other sexual orientation change efforts no longer practiced[80][14]
Heterosexual dating & marriage As a therapeutic step[81][82][83][84] Not to be seen as a therapy or solution[85][86]

Some changes have seemed abrupt and contradictory as was the case in September 1995 when a First Presidency member affirmed in the Ensign that an inborn homosexual orientation was a false belief with no scientific evidence and that if homosexuality were inborn it would frustrate God's plan.[87] In the next month's edition of the Ensign,[88] however, an Apostle refuted this without referring to it directly by stating that there is some evidence that inheritance plays a role in a homosexual orientation.[41]:58

Early instances[edit]

Patriarch Smith was released amidst accusations of homosexual affairs

There were several known or alleged instances of same-sex sexual and romantic relationships by church members in the 19th century and early 20th century. These include the young man George Naylor,[89]:1200 the actress Ada Russell,[12]:427–428 and the researcher Mildred Berryman.[90][91][12]:226–228 During the early days of the church, when same-sex sexual activity by a member was suspected, the accused was sometimes disfellowshipped or excommunicated, and from 1852 on, under the church-controlled Utah Territory legislature, any sex between males was punished by the courts.[89][92] The first known instance of church discipline on this was in 1841 from the alleged bisexual behavior of church leader John Bennett, allegedly with Francis Higbee.[12]:266–267 Valeen Avery has suggested that Joseph Smith's son, David Hyrum Smith (1844–1904), may have been gay.[93]

One of the more prominent instances of homosexual activity by a Mormon man in the early 20th century was presiding patriarch Joseph Fielding Smith. He served in the position only four years before being released by church president George Albert Smith for reasons of "ill health."[94] It is reported that he had been involved in several gay affairs with at least three men[12]:369–371[95][96] After being released, Smith took his wife and children to Honolulu, Hawaii.[42]

Previous views on the nature of homosexuality[edit]

Curable illness[edit]

In 1959, in response to a rash of arrests of gay men in Utah and Idaho, church president David O. McKay had apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Mark E. Petersen focus their assignment on curing gay members.[40]:381 At the time, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classified homosexuality as a mental illness, and Kimball was adamant that it could be cured. Speaking to church educators and LDS psychiatrists in 1965, Kimball said, citing a Medical World News article, that "[w]e know such a disease is curable," and that ex-gay Mormons had emerged from the church's counseling programs cured, although the cure was "like the cure for alcoholism subject to continued vigilance."[97] In 1970, Kimball was involved in creating an LDS publication for church leaders to "assist them to effect a cure and ... become normal again."[82] The pamphlet taught that church leaders may assist gay members by reciting scripture; appealing to their reason; encouraging them to abandon gay lovers and associates; praying with them; and encouraging them to replace any sexual expression of their homosexual feelings with heterosexual expressions like opposite-sex dating.[98]:2–6 The pamphlet emphasized that "[h]omosexuality CAN be cured."[98]:7 In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders[99] and in 1990 the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of disorders classified in the tenth edition of the International Classification of Diseases.[100][101]


In 1992 the church produced a booklet for leaders entitled Understanding and Helping Those With Homosexual Problems,[102] which removed all reference to homosexuality as a disease, instead framing it as "sinful behavior" that "should be eliminated" as well as "thoughts and feelings" which "should be overcome." LDS leaders have referenced contemporary scientific research, but in 2007 said this should not be taken as an official church position on "scientific questions," such as the causes of homosexuality.[3]

Confusion of gender[edit]

On several occasions spanning the 1970s to the early 2000s while discussing homosexuality, church leaders have alluded to their belief that the homosexual feeling may stem from a confusion over one's gender identity or gender roles.[103]:341 Since then the church has acknowledged differences between gender identity and sexual orientation.[104][105][106] Gender identity and roles play an important part in Latter-Day Saint teachings which teaches a strict binary of spiritual gender as literal offspring of divine parents.[107][108] Church leaders have stated that they have unfinished business[106] in teaching on the difficult and sensitive topic of transgender individuals.[109]

Proposed historical tolerance[edit]

Former LDS historian D. Michael Quinn has suggested that early church leaders had a more tolerant view of homosexuality given that during the 19th century, the Church (like American society as a whole) was relatively tolerant of same-sex intimate relationships. However, at the time, many such relationships had no sexual component, and among those that did, the evidence is usually circumstantial.[12] Quinn also states that several active and prominent members of the church in Utah were not disciplined after publicizing that they were living in romantic relationships with their same-sex domestic partners, although there is no clear evidence these relationships involved sex.[12] These included Evan Stephens, who had been director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir until 1916 and is the author of numerous standard church hymns, who remained single but had intimate relationships and shared the same bed with a series of male domestic partners and traveling companions.[110] Some of these relationships were described under a pseudonym in The Children's Friend.[111] Also notable were Louise B. Felt and May Anderson, the church's first two general presidents of the Primary, who lived together in the same bedroom for decades and were referred to by Primary leaders as the "David and Jonathan" of Primary.[12] Quinn's interpretations of previous leaders' views and the nature of the relationships of Evan Stephens, and Felt and Anderson have been challenged as a distortion of history.[112] Kimball Young has cited the early church's practice of sealing men to each other as evidence of latent homosexuality.[113][12]:136–138

Current theology and policy[edit]

In 1999, Gordon B. Hinckley, then president of the church, officially welcomed gay people in the church,[114] and in an interview affirmed them as "good people": "Now we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action against such people—provided they don't become involved in transgression, sexual transgression. If they do, we do with them exactly what we'd do with heterosexuals who transgress."[115] The church teaches that homosexual problems can be overcome "through faith in God, sincere repentance, and persistent effort."[102] "Homosexual relations" is included on the church's list of "serious transgressions" that may result in a disciplinary council and, if the person does not desist, excommunication.[116]:95 The church defines "serious transgressions" to include "murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations (especially sexual cohabitation),[117] deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities, robbery, burglary, theft, embezzlement, sale of illegal drugs, fraud, perjury, and false swearing."[116]

In November 2015, the church clarified that its members who are in a same-sex marriage are in apostasy and would be subject to church discipline.[23][118] Prior to this, local leadership had more discretion in whether or how far to pursue church disciplinary action for members in same-sex marriages. Local church leaders still have discretion for same-sex couples who are cohabiting but not married. While explicitly including same-sex marriage in the church's definition of apostasy, the November 2015 update also addressed children of same-sex couples. In the updated policy, children living in a same-sex household may not receive a name and a blessing, nor be baptized until at least 18 years of age, and must disavow same-sex marriage and no longer be living with a parent who is, or has been, in a same-sex relationship.[119][120]

On April 4, 2019, the church revised its policy on couples in same-sex marriages again. First Presidency member Dallin H. Oaks was quoted as saying, "Previously, our Handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy. While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way." The new policy also allows the children of same-sex couples to receive blessings from "a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder," with the understanding that "congregation members will contact them periodically, and that when the child who has been blessed reaches eight years of age, a Church member will contact them and propose that the child be baptized."[25][24]

Terminology used by the church[edit]

Although there is no official policy to this effect, some church leaders have stated that "homosexual", "lesbian", and "gay" should be used as adjectives to describe thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, and never as nouns to describe people.[3][121][122] Not all leaders adhere to this approach. For example, Hinckley once stated in a public interview that "we have gays in the church."[115] Those leaders who adopt this position argue that using these words to denote a person rather than a feeling would imply a person has no choice in regards to their sexual behavior.[122] Church leaders and organizations have made reference to homosexuality as a sexual orientation[3][123] and have only begun directly addressing bisexual members since October 2016.[124][125] According to apostle Dallin H. Oaks, church references condemning homosexuality are to be interpreted as a condemnation of sexual behavior, not of the people who have certain sexual feelings.[126]

"Homosexual problems", according to popular church vernacular, are defined as "homoerotic thoughts, feelings, or behaviors."[102] In describing people with homosexual feelings, the church and its members will often refer to "same-gender attractions". This is used in contrast to people who have problems with opposite-gender attraction.[127] "Marriage" is defined by the church as being between a man and a woman. To many in the church, same-sex marriages are not considered a legitimate form of marriage, and the church supports the notion of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.[19][128]

The church uses the example of Jesus Christ being tempted as an example of how homosexuals can avoid sin.

Homosexual inclinations[edit]

The church does not condemn what it calls "susceptibilities," "inclinations", or "temptations" of any type that are not acted upon, pointing to the example of the temptation of Christ.[3] Members with homosexual "inclinations" can participate as all other members of the church[4] and if they remain celibate or heterosexually married, they can participate in the religion to the same extent as straight members. Heterosexual marriage is considered a sacred covenant which should generally not be pursued if homosexual feelings are not under control.[3] Those with same-gender attractions are encouraged to talk to their ecclesiastical leader.[129][130] They are encouraged not to let their sexual feelings be the sole defining factor in their lives, but to see the whole person, extending their horizons beyond their sexual orientation.[3] They are advised that they should be careful not to blame their parents.

However, church leaders recognize the loneliness and difficulty that those with homosexual inclinations may have and encourage other members to reach out to them.[19][37] Oaks has said, “All should understand that persons (and their family members) struggling with the burden of same-sex attraction are in special need of the love and encouragement that is a clear responsibility of church members, who have signified by covenant their willingness to bear one another's burden and so fulfill the law of Christ.[122]

The church does not participate in debate on whether homosexual susceptibilities develop from "nature" or "nurture", suggesting that such debates are better left to science.[3] Oaks has admitted that "perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice" and "may have some relationship to inheritance," citing some scientific research.[122] However, the church teaches that these inclinations will not continue beyond death[3] and that gender and gender roles are an eternal and essential characteristic of a soul.[107]

Homosexual thoughts[edit]

The church teaches that all members should take responsibility in bridling their thoughts, attitudes, feelings, desires, and passions. All members are taught to avoid any talk or activity that may arouse immoral sexual feelings.[129] Members are taught to "let virtue garnish [their] thoughts unceasingly."[131] Apostle Richard G. Scott has taught that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, all desire to sin can be changed and individuals can experience lasting peace.[132]

For those with same-gender attractions, church leaders counsel that "the line of prudence is between the susceptibility and the feelings."[3] The church teaches that everyone has feelings they did not choose,[122] and homosexual feelings can be powerful and difficult to control[4] but "regardless of the causes, these problems can be controlled and eventually overcome."[102] Even though there is no church discipline for homosexual thoughts or feelings,[122] the church teaches they should learn to accept responsibility for homosexual feelings[102] and cite examples of how those born with inclinations to alcoholism, anger, or other undesirable traits have been able to control their thoughts and actions.[3] With better understanding of moral law, they teach these problems will be able to be fixed "routinely."[121]

The church teaches that members should not indulge in activities that will intensify homosexual feelings, such as viewing pornography, masturbating, or participating in homosexual behavior.[102][133][134] "Unhealthy" relationships, such as those with people that encourage homosexual behavior, should be cut off, and the very appearance of evil should be avoided.[102][121] Bishops of the church are counseled to be careful to avoid creating circumstances in which those with homosexual problems are exposed to temptations.[102]

Homosexual behavior[edit]

Symbols for female and male homosexuality

In 1991, the church issued a statement that read:

Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior is sinful .... We plead with those involved in such behavior to forsake it.[102]

The church has also taught that homosexual behavior distorts loving relationships,[129] undermines the divinely created institution of the family[19] and can become an addiction.[121] Church discipline for homosexual activity is similar to that for members involved in heterosexual activity. For example, pre-marital sex of either kind may permanently bar a person from serving as a church missionary.[135]

The church teaches that homosexual behavior has always been a grievous sin.[37] In 1976, apostle Boyd K. Packer taught:

There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just "that way" and can only yield to those desires. It is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life ... Boys are to become men—masculine, manly men—ultimately to become husbands and fathers.[134]

Although church leaders condemn the sin of homosexual behavior, they teach love for the men and women who experience homosexual attraction, including for those who pursue some form of homosexual lifestyle: "We should reach out with kindness and comfort to the afflicted, ministering to their needs and assisting them with their problems."[37] Church leaders have spoken out against "gay-bashing" and other physical or verbal attacks on those involved in homosexual behavior.[122][136][137]

Church president Spencer W. Kimball stated that he finds it hard to believe that one would choose to be homosexual by a conscious decision; instead, he suggested that it might be a spiritual disorder—with its roots in selfishness—resulting in feelings that must be overcome or suppressed.[121] Kimball emphasized that the behavior is changeable,[121] and if not repented of, may result in church discipline including excommunication under the direction of the bishop.[102] Kimball maintained that the cure comes through following the basic rules for moral and spiritual health for a long period of time with undeviating determination.[121]

Homosexuality after death[edit]

On several occasions from 2006–2009 multiple top leaders taught that attractions to those of the same sex won't exist after death, stating "it must be true"[138] that "gay or lesbian inclinations" will "not exist post-mortality",[139] but only occur "right now in mortality."[3] The 2007 official church publication "God Loveth His Children" states that, "others may not be free of this challenge [of same-gender attraction] in this life" but that "our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family."[44]:46[140]:4[141] Additionally, in the church's plan of salvation noncelibate gay and lesbian individuals will not be allowed in the top tier of heaven to receive what's called exaltation to become like God unless they repent, and a heterosexual marriage is a requirement.[142]

Treatment and views of LGBT people[edit]

The church has occasionally addressed the treatment and views of LGBT+ members. In 2000 the apostle Packer addressed gay and lesbian youth stating that church leaders don't reject, but rather love them, and that they sometimes must extend tough love through teaching and discipline.[143] Additionally, the 2007 church pamphlet "God Loveth His Children" acknowledged that some gay members have felt rejection by other members. It criticized those who did not show love and challenged gay members to show love and kindness to help other members change their attitudes.[140]

There are many current and former members of the LDS Church who are attracted to people of the same sex, and they have had a variety of positive and negative experiences with leaders and other members. For example, one gay Mormon man who dates men reported never having problems with his local leaders, while another who was a Church employee described how his stake president denied his temple recommend resulting in him getting fired simply because of his friendship with other gay men and his involvement in a charity bingo for Utah Pride in a 2011 article.[144] One former LDS bishop and temple sealer Antonio A. Feliz said that his Peruvian mission was directed in the early 1960s[145] by South American area authorities to not teach known homosexuals.[146] A 1997 poll at BYU found that 1/3 of male students would avoid befriending a gay student and 42% of all students believed that even celibate, honor-code-following gay members should not be allowed to attend BYU.[147][148] Several church employees have been fired[149][150][151] or pressured to leave for being celibate but gay,[152][103]:162–163[153] or for supporting LGBT rights.[154][155] In a 2007 US poll, only 24% of Mormons agreed that "homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted," less than any other major religious group in the survey except for Jehovah's Witnesses, and 2 out of 3 (68%) latter-day saints said it should be discouraged.[156] In a similar poll seven years later, 36% said homosexuality should be accepted and over half (57%) said it should be discouraged.[157] A 2017 poll found that 40% of LDS members supported same-sex marriage and 53% were opposed.[158]:10 Additionally, 69% of adherents supported laws that protect LGBT Americans against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, but 53% believed small private business should be able to deny products and services to gay or lesbian people for religious reasons.[158]:15,20

Views on gender diversity and identity[edit]

Expressions and identities for sexuality and gender are "separate, but related" aspects of a person[159] and stem from similar biological origins.[160] In relation to transgender and other gender diverse individuals church spokesman Eric Hawkins stated in March 2016 that LDS bishops recognize that "each case is different" and "difficult and sensitive" and that they recognize the "emotional pain" many gender minorities feel. He also reaffirmed the church's views that "gender is part of our eternal God-given identity and purpose" and stated that the Church does not baptize "those who are planning trans-sexual operations" and that undergoing a "trans-sexual operation" may imperil the membership of a church member.[161][109]

According to current church policy, members who have undergone an “elective transsexual operation” are banned from temple rites or receiving priesthood authority. Additionally, a transgender individual who has undergone gender-confirming surgery may be baptized only with First Presidency approval, and those considering it are barred from baptism.[106] The church has acknowledged differences between gender identity and sexual orientation stating that they have "unfinished business in teaching on [transgender situations]."[105][106] The official website on homosexuality states that "same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria are very different ... those who experience gender dysphoria may or may not also experience same-sex attraction, and the majority of those who experience same-sex attraction do not desire to change their gender. From a psychological and ministerial perspective, the two are different."[104]

Criticism and controversies[edit]

The church's policies and treatment of LGBT people has long been a source of controversy both inside and outside the church[26][162] and a significant cause of disagreement and disaffection by members.[163][164][29]

Among members[edit]

A 2011 online survey of over 3,000 individuals who no longer believe church truth claims found that around ten percent would consider returning if (among several changes) LGBT persons were accepted and treated equally.[165]

Among the public[edit]

The controversial policies for LGBT persons has made an impression on the general public. A 2003 nationwide Pew Research Center survey of over 1,000 LGBT Americans found that 83% of them said the LDS church was "generally unfriendly towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people" surpassed only by "the Muslim religion" at 84%.[162] Additionally, in May 2008 a Georgia Tech gay-rights manual referred to the LDS Church as "anti-gay." After two students sued the school for discrimination, a judge ordered that the material be removed.[166][167][168]

Teachings on homosexuality changeability and origins[edit]

Past leaders' teachings on reparative therapy and the origins of homosexuality have been criticized. In the late 90s psychiatrist Jeffery R. Jensen, a University of Utah alumnus,[169] criticized church reparative therapy modalities and etiological theories around homosexuality in multiple presentations as lacking scientific integrity as he believed they were dictated from top church leaders rather than drawn from actual empirical observation by trained professionals. He also stated that current church publications on the subject were condescending, dehumanizing pontifications using caricatures and stereotypes of gay men and lesbians to distort knowledge and facts in order to justify oppressive standards and norms. He continued asserting that "far too many of our lesbian and gay youths kill themselves because of what you say about them" since gay men and lesbians cannot be made heterosexual, and "those who believe your false promises and remain celibate in the hopes of eventual 'cure' are consigned to a misery."[170][171] Soon after, The American Psychiatric Association disavowed therapy trying to change sexual orientation as ineffective and destructive.[172]

Packer's address[edit]

Packer's conference address published here has been criticized of condoning anti-gay violence.[43]:150[173][174]

One general conference address later distributed as a pamphlet that generated controversy was Packer's "To Young Men Only" which condones an example of a male missionary who punched his missionary companion for making romantic advances with Packer stating, "Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it ...."[175][134] Historians Michael Quinn and Rocky O'Donovan have argued these comments "essentially advocated anti-Gay violence",[43] and that the church itself endorsed such behavior by continuing to publish Packer's speech in pamphlet form.[176]:38–39 Former bishop David Hardy also condemned this pamphlet and other publications as promoting violence against gay people and providing outdated misinformation on the nature of his once-suicidal gay son.[173][174] In 1995, Oaks said, "Our doctrines obviously condemn those who engage in so-called 'gay bashing'—physical or verbal attacks on persons thought to be involved in homosexual or lesbian behavior"[122] and in 2016, the church ceased publication of the pamphlet and it was removed from the church's website.[177]


The policies and treatment of LGBTQ individuals have prompted several protests and mass resignations including the following:

  • 2 November 2008 – Hundreds of people gathered at the Salt Lake City library in a protest of Prop 8 organized by LDS mothers of gay children.[178][179]
  • 6 November 2008 – In Los Angeles over two thousand people protested at the LDS temple over the LDS church's heavy involvement in the recent passing of California's Prop 8 banning same-sex marriage.[180]
  • 7 November 2008 – Three days after Prop 8 passed nearly five thousand protesters gathered at the Salt Lake Temple.[181][182] That evening a candlelight vigil by about 600 mothers of LGBT children was also held at the Salt Lake Temple.[183][184]
  • 7 October 2010 – Thousands of individuals surrounded Temple Square in protest of Boyd K. Packer's "Cleansing the Inner Vessel" conference address in which he characterized same-sex physical attractions as impure and unnatural tendencies that could be overcome.[26][185]
  • 14 November 2015 – In response to a policy change on members in same-sex marriages and their children, 1,500 members gathered across from the church's offices to submit their resignation letters,[164][186] with thousands more resigning online in the weeks after.[187][29] In early November, top church leaders updated the Church Handbook banning a "child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship" from baby blessings, baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination, and missionary service until the child had moved out, was "of legal age", "disavow[ed] the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage", and received approval from the Office of the First Presidency. The policy update also added entering a same-sex marriage as a type of "apostasy" mandating a disciplinary council.[188][27] However, according to a November 2016 study, the vast majority of active members supported the new policy on same-sex parents and their children.[189]

Mixed-orientation marriage[edit]

LDS leaders have stated that opposite-sex marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step for members physically attracted to those of the same sex.[86][85]

Many gay and lesbian members of the LDS Church have felt that they should marry someone of the opposite sex because of the church's emphasis on marriage. Evergreen director David Pruden was quoted as stating in 2002 that 40% of the approximately 150 callers requesting help each month on their hotline were Mormon men married to women, and distressed about their homosexual attractions.[190] Additionally, a 2004 publication quoted Family Services statistics which showed that about half of the approximately 400 gay Mormon men they had seen as clients for over a year during the past 30 years were married, though only half of those were able to stay married.[191]

The church teaches that heterosexual marriage is one of several requirements for afterlife entry into the "highest degree of glory" in the celestial kingdom. Church leaders previously encouraged this, with one former church employee stating in 1986 that he had experienced pressure to marry at the age of 24 in the belief that it would change his homosexual feelings, later resulting in a divorce.[192] Leaders have stated that those who do not have an opportunity to be married in this life have been promised that they will have an opportunity to do so in the afterlife[193][194][122] Leaders have said that homosexual attractions will not continue past death, and that if the individual is faithful in this life, they will receive every blessing in the eternities, including eternal marriage.[3]

The most recent statement by a general church leader as of 2015 was when the apostle Oaks stated that leaders "definitely do not recommend marriage as a solution for same-gender feelings. No, it’s not a therapy. In times past, decades ago, there were some practices to that effect. We have eradicated them in the Church now."[86] Another current mention is in the church website on homosexuality which features a gay man married to a straight woman.[195]

Other teachings include when in 1984 Hinckley (then in the First Presidency) had stated that "marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices ...."[37] Oaks had also previously stated in 2007 that marriages should not be entered under false pretenses[3] and that doing so can damage the lives of others.[102] Church leaders are warned that encouraging members to cultivate heterosexual feelings generally leads to frustration and discouragement.[102] Previously, the church had taught that it was possible to overcome same-sex feelings[121] and that heterosexual feelings can emerge once an individual ceases any same-sex sexual activity.[102] Oaks did state in 2007, however, that marriage would be appropriate for a man attracted to men who had "shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity."[3] Several gay LDS men reported being able to maintain a heterosexual marriage in 2007.[196]


Several surveys have been done on the topic of LGBT Mormons and opposite-sex marriages. A 1997 study by members of the BYU Family Studies Department found that of over 200 single LDS women of diverse ages polled, 33% would be willing to seriously date and consider marriage with a hypothetical LDS college grad who had been sexually active with other men 3 years ago.[197] A 2015 study found that 51% of the 1,612 LGBT Mormon respondents who had entered a mixed-orientation marriage ended up divorcing,[198]:301[199] and projected that 69% of all these marriages would ultimately end in divorce.[200]:108[201][202] The study also found that engaging in mixed-orientation marriages and involvement in the LDS church were correlated with higher rates of depression and a lower quality of life for LGBT people.[203]

Political involvement around LGBT rights[edit]

The LDS church has held notable political influence on laws around LGBT individuals in the United States, especially in the state of Utah.

The LDS Church has been involved with many pieces of legislation relating to LGBT discrimination and same-sex marriage. Leaders have stated that it will become involved in political matters if it perceives that there is a moral issue at stake and wields considerable influence on a national level[204][205][206] with over a dozen members of congress having membership in the church in the early 2000s,[207] and about 80% of Utah state lawmakers identifying as Mormon.[208][209][210][211]

Views on discrimination laws[edit]

In February 2003, the LDS Church said it did not oppose a hate-crimes bill, which included sexual orientation, then under consideration in the Utah state legislature.[212] The church opposes same-sex marriage, but does not object to rights regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.[213] Following two months of negotiations between top Utah gay rights leaders and mid-level church leaders,[214] the church supported a gay rights bill in Salt Lake City which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and employment, calling them "common-sense rights." The law does not apply to housing or employment provided by religious organizations.[215][216] Apostle Holland stated that it could be a model for the rest of the state.[217] The LDS Church has not taken a position on ENDA.[218]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute survey found that over half (53%) of all Mormon adults believed small private business should be able to deny products and services to gay or lesbian people for religious reasons (compared to 33% of the 40,000+ American adults surveyed),[158]:15,23 and 24% of all Mormon adults oppose laws that protect LGBT Americans against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.[219][158]:20

Opposition to same-sex marriage legislation[edit]

Protesters in front of the Newport Beach California Temple voicing their opposition to the church's support of Prop 8

In reference to church involvement with legislation around LGBT people and marriage the apostle M. Russell Ballard has said the church is "locked in" if anything interferes with the principle of marriage being between a man and a woman, and stated that a very careful evaluation is made to determine what action is appropriate.[220] Beginning in the mid-1990s, the LDS Church began to focus its attention on the issue of same-sex marriages with one scholar citing the church's views of God's male-female union plan, their sense of responsibility in publicly protecting traditional morality, and a fear of government encroachment in church performed marriages as the motivations for this opposition.[221] In 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held that discrimination against same-sex couples in the granting of marriage licenses violated the Hawaiian constitution. In response, the church's First Presidency issued a statement on February 13, 1994 declaring their opposition to same-sex marriage, and urging members to support efforts to outlaw it. With the lobbying of the LDS Church and several other religious organizations, the Hawaii legislature enacted a bill in 1994 outlawing same-sex marriages.

In response to Hawaii's same-sex marriage passage, the LDS Church released the 1995 "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" reaffirming its stance that marriage is between one man and one woman.[222] However, this monogamous stance has been strongly criticized as hypocritical given the Church's historical disagreement with this legal definition which bars polygamy.[223]:618

In 2004, the Church officially endorsed a federal amendment to the United States Constitution as well as Utah Constitutional Amendment 3 banning any marriages not between one man and one woman and announced its opposition to political measures that "confer legal status on any other sexual relationship" than "a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife."[19] This statement seemed to also oppose civil unions, common-law marriages, plural marriages, or other family arrangements. This political involvement elicited the criticism of California Senator Mark Leno who questioned whether the Church's tax-exempt status should be revoked.[224]

The church distributed hundreds of thousands of these Protect Marriage Coalition lawn signs during their involvement with the pro-Prop 8 campaign.[225]

On August 13, 2008, the Church released a letter explaining why it believed that same-sex marriage would be detrimental to society and encouraging California members to support Prop 8[213] which would bar anything but opposite-sex marriages. The letter asked members to donate time and money towards the initiative. Church members would account for 80 to 90 percent of volunteers who campaigned door-to-door and as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised during the campaign.[226] In November 2008, the day after California voters approved Proposition 8, the LDS Church stated that it does not object to domestic partnership or civil union legislation as long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.[227] Soon after, top leader Whitney Clayton stated that members who opposed Prop. 8 may be subject to discipline from local church leaders.[228] The Church's political involvement in Prop 8 and stance on homosexuality was denounced by the 2010 documentary film 8: The Mormon Proposition. In a special meeting for some Oakland, California members it was reported that church historian and Seventy Marlin Jensen apologized to straight and gay members for their pain from the Proposition 8 campaign and some other church actions around homosexuality.[229][230][231]

On December 20, 2013, the topic of same-sex marriage and the LDS Church was raised again when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the Utah ban on same-sex marriage, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.[232] In response, the Church released instructions to leaders regarding same-sex marriage in Utah.[233] These included the stance that, while the church disagrees with the court ruling, those who obtain same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully.[233] Additionally, it stated that church leaders were prohibited from employing their authority to perform marriages, and that any church property could not be used for same-sex marriages or receptions.[233]

In November 2015, a new policy was released stating that members who are in a same-sex marriage are considered apostates and may be subject to church discipline.[118] Additionally, the children of parents who are in same-sex relationships must wait until they are 18 years old and then disavow homosexual relationships before they can be baptized.[234]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute survey found that over half (52%) of Mormon young adults (18–29) supported same-sex marriage while less than a third (32%) of Mormon seniors (65+) did the same.[158]:11[219]

LGBT students at Brigham Young University[edit]

BYU has been ranked as the worst large US university for LGBT persons.[235][236]

Brigham Young University (BYU) is the largest religious university in North America and is the flagship institution of the LDS Church's educational system. A BYU study from 1950 to 1972 showed that 10% of BYU men and 2% of BYU women indicated having had a "homosexual experience."[237][176]:45 Several LGBT rights organizations have criticized BYU's Honor Code as it relates to LGBT students and The Princeton Review has regularly ranked BYU among the most LGBT-unfriendly schools in the United States.[235][236][238] BYU campus currently offers no official LGBT-specific resources.[239]

LGBT BYU students at a USGA meeting in 2017

BYU has seen many changes in policies around its LGBT student population. In 1962 a ban on students known to have a homosexual orientation was enacted by Ernest Wilkinson, but softened a decade later by his successor Dallin H. Oaks in 1973 to only ban "overt and active homosexuals."[12]:375[240][241] Under Oaks a system of surveillance and searches of dorms of problem students including suspected homosexuals was implemented[242][243] including stake outs by BYU security looking for license plates of BYU students at gay bars in Salt Lake City and fake contact advertisements placed in gay publications attempting to ensnare BYU students.[244][12]:442[245] In the late 1990s a reference to "homosexual conduct" was added to the BYU Honor Code,[246] and there was a ban on coming out for lesbian, gay, or bisexual students.[247][248][249] In 2007, BYU changed the honor code to read that stating one's sexual orientation was not an honor code issue.[250][251] This allowed for the formation of a group called USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction) consisting of BYU students and other members of the Provo community which began meeting on campus in 2010 to discuss issues relating to homosexuality and the LDS Church.[252] By December 2012 they were no longer allowed to hold meetings on campus.[253] In February 2020, BYU removed the ban on "homosexual behavior" from its Honor Code,[254] which many initially thought allowed LGBT students to perform public displays of romantic affection, although, like straight students, they still must abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage;[254] however, BYU leadership later clarified removing "homosexual behavior" from the Honor Code still did not permit any public displays of romantic affection towards a same-sex partner, which sparked more outrage and protests from the LGBT community.[255][256][257][258]

Sexual orientation change efforts[edit]

Church leaders taught for decades that members could and should try to change their sexual orientation,[34] with a 2011 Broadway play satirizing these teachings with a gay Mormon missionary stating that he could "turn it off like a light switch" in reference to eliminating his gay feelings.[259][260]

In the past the LDS church (like Orthodox Judaism, evangelical Christianity, and Catholicism) encouraged its LGBTQ members to attempt to change their sexual orientation, and continued to communicate into 2015 that changing one's sexual orientation was possible through personal righteousness, prayer, faith in Christ, psychotherapy, and group therapy and retreats.[34] Stances softened over the years, however.[34] In the 60s and 70s Church leaders taught that homosexuality was a curable disease and they encouraged self-help attempts by homosexual members to change their sexual orientation and cultivate heterosexual feelings.[11]:13–19 To assist in this, leaders developed an aversion therapy program on BYU campus for gay adolescents and adults from '59[12]:379 to '83[17]:65 since simply being attracted to people of the same sex was an excommunicable sin under church president Kimball.[11]:2 Teachings later changed as it became clear these self-help and aversive techniques were not working and, thus, from the 80s to the 2000s reparative therapy (also called conversion therapy) became the dominant treatment method. It was often recommended by Evergreen in an attempt to help homosexual members unchoose and unlearn their attractions.

In a 2010 survey of 625 Utah individuals 55% of Mormons believed sexual orientation could be changed,[261] and a 2015 survey of 1,612 LGBT Mormons and former Mormons found that 73% of men and 43% of women had attempted sexual orientation change, usually through multiple methods across many years.[262]:5 Counselor-led sexual orientation change efforts dwindled among members around 2015[11]:17–20 as church teachings evolved with leaders explicitly stating in 2012 that same-sex sexual attractions were not a choice[11]:21 and affirming in 2016 that therapy focusing on a change in sexual orientation was unethical.[263][14]

Aversion therapy at BYU[edit]

BYU's Honor Code office required some students reported for homosexual behavior to undergo electroshock and vomit aversion therapies in the 1970s[43]:155

In 1959 BYU began administering "aversion therapy" to "cure," "repair," or "reorient" homosexual feelings or behavior among Mormon males.[12]:377,379 The on-campus program lasted through the 60s and 70s, and faded out around 1983.[17]:64–65[43]:155,157 BYU mental health counselors, LDS bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, general authorities, and the BYU Standards Office (equivalent to today's Honor Code Office) all referred young men to the BYU program.[12]:377–379 Gerald J. Dye, who was over the University Standards Office from 1971 to 1980[264] (renamed the Honor Code Office in 1991), stated that part of the "set process" for homosexual BYU students referred to his office for "less serious" offenses was to require that they undergo therapy to remain at BYU and that in special cases this included "electroshock and vomiting aversion therapies."[43]:155 From 1975 to 1976 Max Ford McBride, a student at BYU, conducted electroshock aversion therapy on 17 men (with 14 completing the treatment) and published a dissertation on the use of electrical aversive techniques to treat ego-dystonic homosexuality.[265] Participant in the 1975-76 BYU study Don Harryman wrote that he experienced "burns on [his] arms and ... emotional trauma."[266][267] In 2011 BYU admitted to the past use of electroshock therapy.[268]

Conversion therapy[edit]

LDS church leaders explicitly promoted non-aversive therapy attempts to change sexual orientation in the past, but have recently shifted away from those previous views.[11]:17–20 Some events and publications on LDS reparative or conversion therapy are shown below:

  • 1986 – BYU published a study by BYU professor and area Church Welfare Services director Victor Brown Jr.[269] stating that people can eliminate homosexual feelings.[270][271]
  • 1993 – A poll of over 400 BYU students found that 41% believed the church only accepted same-sex oriented individuals as long as they changed their sexual orientation and 10% believed the church would excommunicate them regardless of sexual behavior.[272]
  • 1993 – BYU faculty reported that church leaders supported church-employed counselors in using a reparative therapy approach which assumed homosexuality could change.[77]
  • Mid-1990s – Gay Mormon Josh Weed went through reparative therapy administered by Family Services.[273]
  • 1996 – In a 1996 and 1997 presentation psychiatrist Jeffery Jensen criticized church reparative therapy efforts as lacking scientific integrity, saying gay men and lesbians cannot be made heterosexual. He also stated "far too many of our lesbian and gay youths kill themselves because of what you say about them," and "those who believe your false promises and remain celibate in the hopes of eventual 'cure' are consigned to a misery."[171][170]
  • Late 90sNational Geographic journalist Andrew Evans was required to undergo conversion therapy in order to continue as a student at an LDS school.[274][275]
  • 1998 – Church leaders discouraged participation in therapy groups that "challenge religious and moral values," "foster physical contact among participants," or "encourage open confession or disclosure of personal information normally discussed only in confidential settings."[116]:156 The handbook also explained that "although participants may experience temporary emotional relief or exhilaration, old problems often return, leading to added disappointment and despair."[116]:155
  • 1999 – The American Psychiatric Association disavowed therapy trying to change sexual orientation as ineffective and destructive.[172]
  • 1999 – A study by church employees of the effects of Nicolosi-influenced reparative therapy on six Mormon individuals with homosexual feelings, was printed in a church university journal stating that "change from same-sex to opposite-sex attraction is possible."[276]
  • 1999 – The church publishes an article in its Ensign on the effectiveness of changing sexual orientation through therapy. The article, written by BYU professor and Evergreen Board of Trustees member Dean Byrd, posited that "homosexuality is not innate and unchangeable", but is caused by "temperament, personality traits, sexual abuse, familial factors, and treatment by one’s peers." The church article further asserted that individuals can "diminish homosexual attraction" and that "when homosexual difficulties have been fully resolved, heterosexual feelings can emerge." In support of this Byrd stated "many individuals who have experienced homosexual difficulties have" had their "burdens" or "trial" "lifted through the Lord’s grace." The article continued acknowledging that those who desire to diminish their "homosexual urgings" may "experience extreme pain because of the extensive changes that are required" including "changing one’s thoughts ... friendships ... or even clothing styles."[277]
  • 2000 – LDS Family Services surveyed 381 of their clients who were homosexual and wanted to change their attractions, and 71% reported significant progress in their sexual orientation change therapy.[278]
  • 2004 – Jeff Robinson published interviews with seven Mormon men married to women who had been through conversion therapy and previously identified as gay. The seven men believed they had a spiritual transformation and that their orientation was changed. Robinson found that their change came from a new understanding that prior same-sex attractions did not require them to "be" gay.[279]
  • 2004 – Researchers published the experience of 50 Mormon men undergoing conversion therapy.[280]
  • 2004 – Michael Ferguson spent seven years undergoing conversion therapy beginning at the recommendation of his BYU bishop in 2004.[281]
  • 2004 – Los Angeles bishop Robert Rees stated in an academic presentation that of the 50 homosexual Mormons with whom he'd had a close relationship over the past two decades, not a single one "was able to change or alter his or her sexual orientation," and that he hadn't "met a single homosexual Latter-day Saint who had not tried valiantly, generally over a long period of time, to change his or her orientation."[282][283]
  • 2005 – In a presentation at BYU's Families Under Fire Conference BYU professor[284] Shirley Cox stated that homosexual attractions can be diminished and that the treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction has a history of being successful.[285]
  • 2006 – When asked the church's position on conversion therapy in 2006, Seventy Lance Wickman responded that it may be appropriate and the Church doesn't council against it. Oaks also stated that "[t]he Church rarely takes a position on which treatment techniques are appropriate." Wickman and Oaks cautioned against abusive practices, such as aversion therapy.[3]
  • 2007 – In the official church pamphlet "God Loveth His Children" leaders stated that "many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality," and that "we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts."[44]:46[140]:3–4,6[141]
  • 2009 – A BYU website on LDS FAQ continued to cite a 1986 study stating that through the gospel of Jesus Christ and reparative therapy that homosexual people can "overcome" their sexual orientation through self-mastery by choosing proper role models, developing appropriate relationship skills, clarifying the importance of sexuality, and reassessing gender roles.[269][271]
  • 2009 – A book authored by mostly BYU professors states that homosexual attractions can be eradicated through therapy.[286] The book continues to be sold in church-owned bookstores as of 2017.[287]
  • 2010 – In a survey of 625 Utah individuals, 55% of Mormons believed sexual orientation could be changed.[261]
  • 2012 – Leaders explicitly stated that same-sex sexual attractions were not a choice.[11]:21
  • 2015 – A church spokesperson stated that Family Services no longer offers any sexual-orientation change efforts, but are willing to help clients reconcile their attractions and religious beliefs. He also stated that their neutral stance on independent SOCE programs like Journey Into Manhood should not be taken as an endorsement.[288]
  • 2015 – An event hosted by BYU-Idaho faculty member[289][290] Michael Williamson on "overcoming" homosexuality through private therapy was scheduled to be held on the BYU-Idaho campus and was advertised during church meetings.[291] The event was cancelled, however, after receiving negative press.[292][293] At the time BYU-I publicly hosted a video of Williams discussing ways to "treat" same-sex attraction, though, it is now accessible to students only.[294]
  • 2015 – A survey of 1,612 LGBT Mormons and former Mormons found that 73% of men and 43% of women had attempted sexual orientation change, usually through multiple methods across many years.[262]:5
  • 2015 – Counselor-led sexual orientation change efforts dwindled among Mormons.[11]:17–20
  • 2016 – An update[295] to the church's official website stated in reference to conversion therapy or sexual orientation change efforts that "it is unethical to focus professional treatment on an assumption that a change in sexual orientation will or must occur,"[263] and that "a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders. The intensity of your attractions may not be in your control ...."[104][296]
  • 2017 – One gay former Mormon reported his previous religiously motivated efforts to diminish his gay feelings through prayer.[297]
  • 2018 – Family Services states in the church's newspaper that they "do not provide what is commonly referred to as 'reparative therapy' or 'sexual orientation change efforts'" any more.[14]

LGBT Mormon suicides and homelessness[edit]

LGBT persons are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

In society at large LGBT individuals especially youth are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide[298][299] due to minority stress stemming from societal anti-LGBT biases and stigma, rejection, and internalized homophobia.[300] Some individuals and organizations have linked church teachings against homosexuality and the treatment of LGBT Mormons by other members and leaders as contributing to LGBT Mormon suicides.[301][302][303] LGBT Mormon suicides and experiences with suicidal ideation have received media coverage.[304][305][306]

In 2013 it was estimated that among the approximately 1000 homeless Utah youths, 30% to 40% were LGBTQ with about half of those coming from LDS homes[307][308] The Ogden, Utah OUTreach Resource Center has reported that over half of their often homeless youth clients identify as LGBTQ.[309] In the large 2012 survey "Growing Up LGBT in America" over two-thirds of LGBT youth in Utah reported not feeling accepted in their community, compared to 42% of LGBT youth nationwide, and 3/4 said they would need to leave Utah to feel accepted.[310][311] In January 2016 the LDS church mourned over reported suicides of LGBT Mormons and stated that leaders and members are taught to "reach out in an active, caring way to all, especially to youth who feel estranged or isolated."[312] The Affirmation website reported over 30 LGBT Mormon victims of suicide between 1971 and 2008[313][314] including five gay male BYU students who all completed suicide in 1965.[43]:156[315]

LGBT Mormon people and organizations[edit]

Some principle homosexual Mormon groups

Though there are no official numbers for how many members of the LDS Church identify their romantic orientation as gay, bisexual, or lesbian, BYU's newspaper cited two LDS therapists who stated in 2003 that the supermajority-Mormon BYU student body is "somewhere around 4 to 5 percent" homosexual.[316] Family Services estimates that there are, on average, four or five members per church ward who experience same-sex attraction.[317] The most recent external study, conducted in 1972, shows that between 10–13 percent of college-aged Mormon men reported past experimentation with homosexual behavior, which was similar to the percentage of non-Mormon men who similarly reported. The study did not tabulate the number of homosexuals who had never had a homosexual experience.[318] Another poll of BYU students in 1997 found that 10% had a gay family member and 69% knew someone attracted to those of the same sex.[147] Gary Watts, former president of Family Fellowship, estimates that only 10 percent of homosexual Mormons remain in the church.[319] Others dispute that estimate, saying numbers in support groups for active Latter-day Saints and for self-identified gay Mormons are comparable.[citation needed] There is a variety of terminology used, including "Moho", to refer to a Mormon homosexual.[320]

Some nationally recognized LGBT former Mormons Tyler Glenn (left) and Kate Kendell.

Prominent LGBT or homosexually attracted Mormons include Elder Christofferson's brother Tom Christofferson, therapist Ty Mansfield, therapist David Matheson, and therapist Josh Weed. Prominent LGBT former Mormons include writer Dustin Lance Black, singer Tyler Glenn, historian D. Michael Quinn, gay rights activist Leonard Matlovich, and attorney Kate Kendell. Organization that have supported Mormons and former Mormons that experience attractions to those of the same sex include Affirmation, North Star, Mormons Building Bridges, Mama Dragons, Evergreen International, USGA. Break-off churches for LGBT Mormons include the United Order Family of Christ in the 70s and the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ by Antonio Feliz from the 80s to 2010.[citation needed]

Depiction in pop culture and media[edit]

LGBT Mormon characters and themes have been featured in many films, plays, and pieces of literature. Examples include the audiovisual works Latter Days, Believer, 8: The Mormon Proposition, TLC's My Husband's Not Gay,[321] the plays Book of Mormon musical,[322] Angels in America, 8, 14,[323] G.B.F.,[324] Facing East,[325] Confessions of a Mormon Boy, Missa Solemnis or The Play About Henry,[326][327] and the novel Advise and Consent.[328][329]

Timeline of important publications and speeches[edit]

1800s to the 1950s[edit]

This highly influential publication was the first general-authority-authored book to explicitly contain church stances on homosexuality.
  • 1897 – During the October general conference, First Presidency member George Q. Cannon used the media attention on the 1895 conviction and two-year imprisonment of famed Irish poet Oscar Wilde as an opportunity to condemn homosexual behavior as an abominable, filthy, nameless crime. He continued stating that the only way to stop homosexuals was for God to wipe them out.[330][331]
  • 1952 – An increase in US public discourse around homosexuality in the McCarthyist Lavender scare era contributed to the first explicit mention of the topic in general conference. Apostle Clark lamented homosexuality is found among men and women, and that homosexual people exercise great influence in shaping culture.[332][43]:146
  • 1958General authority Bruce R. McConkie published Mormon Doctrine, in which he states that homosexuality is among Lucifer's chief means of leading souls to hell. In the section on Chastity he stated that it's better to be dead clean, than alive unclean.[333][12]:375


  • 1964 – Apostle Spencer W. Kimball called homosexuality a malady, disease, and an abominable and detestable crime against nature that was curable by self mastery.[334] He cited one lay bishop (a businessman by trade) assigned by the church to administer a program of rehabilitation through which he claimed there had been numerous "cures." He said the police, the courts, and the judges had referred many cases directly to the church.[9][335]:91
The 1968 leader handbook was the first release to explicitly mention homosexuality.
  • 1965Kimball again addressed homosexuality in his BYU speech "Love vs. Lust." He called it a gross, heinous, obnoxious, abominable, vicious sin. The text states that those with homosexual desires could correct and overcome them like the cure for alcoholism. In the speech he stated BYU will never knowingly enroll nor tolerate anyone with these tendencies who fails to repent, and that it is a damnable heresy for a homosexual person to say that God made them that way. He also stated that sometimes masturbation is an introduction to homosexuality.[97][43]:149
  • 1965Ernest L. Wilkinson, addressed the BYU student body stating a ban on students with homosexual feelings since they contaminate the campus.[336][337][43]:154
Kimball's influential book taught that homosexuality was curable and was officially recommended as a resource for homosexual members into the 90s.[102]:2
  • 1968 – A version of the Church Handbook was released containing the first explicit mention of homosexuality, specifying that homo-sexual (sic) acts require a church court.[338][12]:380
  • 1969 – Kimball released his book The Miracle of Forgiveness, in which he teaches that masturbation can lead to acts of homosexuality. His book was quoted in a 1979 church manual where it states that homosexuality is curable and certainly overcome as long as the person continues knocking at the door to a cure until their knuckles are bloody.[339][340] Kimball viewed many homosexuals as basically good people trapped in sin and posited that some totally conquer homosexuality in a few months, but sometimes leads to sex with animals.[133]


  • 1970Victor L. Brown of the Presiding Bishopric gave an April general conference address in which he states that a normal and healthy 12- or 13-year-old boy or girl could develop into a homosexual if exposed to pornographic literature and other abnormalities.[341][342][343]:297
Spencer W. Kimball was assigned as a church specialist on homosexuality in 1946[40]:381 and shaped church teachings on the subject through numerous speeches and publications in the '60s and '70s.
  • 1970 – The church produced Hope for Transgressors,[98] in which apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Mark E. Petersen offer ideas to leaders about how to effect a total "cure" and bring the lives of men with homosexual feelings into total normalcy. Ideas include prayer, cutting off contact with homosexual friends, dating women, marriage,[334] and scripture reading. He calls homosexuality a despicable, degraded, dread practice, and a perversion that would doom the world, though calling the homosexual individual an afflicted one. The guide notes that Kimball and Petersen were designated as the church specialists on homosexuality, and that homosexuality is not totally the fault of family conditions and concludes it "CAN be cured" (emphasis in the original).[82]
Booklet revisions of Kimball's influential '70s discourse on homosexuality (from the top: '70, '71, '78).[43]:147
  • 1971 – Apostle Kimball revised and retitled Hope for Transgressors as a 34-page letter from to homosexual men titled New Horizons for Homosexuals. In it he calls homosexuality a ruinous practice of perversion that the church will never condone that begins with curiosity. He states that saying perverts are born that way is a base lie since homosexuality is curable and can be overcome and recovered from. It also calls homosexuality ugly, degenerate, unnatural, vicious, base, a waste of power, a deep sin, and an end to the family and civilization."[47]:149 The publication advises that for the homosexual to recover they must shun anyone associated with the transgression and pray and read the scriptures.[344] The pamphlet would be reissued in 1978 as a 30-page pamphlet titled A Letter to a Friend.[43]:147
A 1973 church publication which taught that a passive father and domineering mother can cause homosexuality, and that conforming to gender norms will change it.
  • 1973 – The church published a guide for bishops and stake presidents titled "Homosexuality: Welfare Services Packet 1", which posited that homosexual behavior begins by being molested with the note that not all who are molested become homosexual. It also suggested that homosexuality is caused by a domineering mother and a passive father. As far as changing the sexual orientation of the person, the packet says that the lesbian needs to learn feminine behavior, and the gay man must learn the manly, heterosexual, or straight way of life.[335]:91[345][63]
  • 1974 – New Church president Spencer W. Kimball gave an October general conference speech in which he again stated that masturbation leads to homosexuality, and also added pornography can as well.[346]:342–343[347]
  • 1975 – The Ensign published an article by Presiding bishop Victor L. Brown which addressed parents stating that a "lack of proper affection in the home" can result in homosexual children.[348][346]:339
Members of LDS Social Services (renamed "Family Services" in '95) were tasked with treating homosexual Mormons in 1972[349]:15 and produced several important publications on homosexuality in '73, '95, and '99.
  • 1975 – Robert L. Blattner of LDS Social Services gave an address at the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP) annual conference. Blattner served as a special assistant to the LDS Commissioner of Personal Welfare Victor L. Brown Jr.[349]:15 In the address Blattner states that the causes of homosexuality in men are a lack of relationship with peers and a disturbed family background with an absent father and controlling mother. For the causes of female homosexuality he only notes the lack of information. He said homosexual behavior and alcoholism are similar and noted that most people can be helped by electric shock behavior modification in reference to BYU's aversion therapy program.[350][351]
  • 1976 – A version of the Church Handbook was released changing the previous grounds for a church court from "homo-sexual (sic) acts" to "homosexuality."[352][353] This change seemed to make Mormons vulnerable to church punishment for having a homosexual orientation alone even without sexual activity.[12]:382
Apostle Boyd K. Packer played a large role in shaping over three decades of teachings on homosexuality through numerous speeches containing the subject.
  • 1976 – Apostle Boyd K. Packer gave the sermon "To Young Men Only" in the October general conference. The sermon counseled against perverse physical contact between men. Packer commended a missionary who was upset after he floored (i.e. punched so hard he fell to the ground) his assigned male companion in response to unwanted sexual advances, saying "somebody had to do it."[334] He further asserted that it is a lie that some are born with homosexual attractions. The sermon was published as a pamphlet by the church from 1980 to 2016.[134][177]
Pamphlet containing apostle Packer's 1978 BYU speech on homosexuality.
  • 1978 – Apostle Packer delivered the sermon "To the One" at BYU[121] in response to the recent controversy generated from a widely circulated pro-gay pamphlet by a gay BYU student and gay BYU instructor.[354][43]:157–159[355] He characterized homosexual interaction as a perversion and presented the possibility that it had its roots in selfishness and could be cured with unselfish thoughts and acts.[356][121]:6 He stated that homosexuality was not discussed much by publicly by the church since talking about it can very foolishly cause things leaders are trying to prevent.[121]:19
  • 1978 – The First Presidency released a statement outlining reasons for their opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment including unnatural consequences like an increase in the practice of homosexual and lesbian activities.[357][47]:150–151


The church opposed the ERA in part from believing it would lead to same-sex marriage and parenting.[358]
  • 1980 – The Ensign published an article stating that a passing of the Equal Rights Amendment would lead to legalizing same-sex marriage and children being raised in a homosexual home.[358][47]:151
  • 1981 – In an April General Conference, church Seventy Hartman Rector Jr. stated "If children have a happy family experience they will not want to be homosexual", and that homosexuality is an acquired addiction like drugs and pornography.[359][360][361]
  • 1981 – The church issued a guide for LDS Social Services employees instructing them that a homosexual orientation is not inborn and there is hope of change, as well as stating that a homosexual man is afraid of the other sex and does not fully understand how to act and think like a masculine man.[362][349]:20
Cover of a 1981 church manual which taught homosexuality wasn't inborn, but caused by masturbation or an unhealthy childhood, and was changeable through praying, and heterosexual dating.[363][12]:51
  • 1981 – Another church guide was released for local church leaders which stated that homosexual inclinations are changeable and not inborn. The booklet gave guidelines for the treatment and prevention of homosexuality such as dating, praying, and reading church literature. It taught that homosexual behavior is learned and influenced by an unhealthy childhood, masturbation, and experimentation.[363][12]:51[364]
  • 1983 – The Church Handbook was updated to state that a church court may be convened to consider serious transgressions including homosexuality and lesbianism but is not required.[365] Some leaders punished even celibate people who confessed to experiencing homosexual feelings.[366]:139
  • 1986 – Dallin H. Oaks commented on a CBS-TV interview that marriage is not doctrinal therapy for homosexual relations, and that he did not know if any leaders had advised homosexual individuals to enter mixed-orientation marriages.[367][12]:393[368]
  • 1987Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency gave an April conference address in which he stated, marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices."[343]:13[369]
  • 1989 – The Church Handbook was updated to clarify offenses as homosexual relations rather than just homosexuality itself.[366]:139 Additionally the update required a church court for any homosexual activity by a member holding a prominent church position such as a bishop.[370]


  • 1990 – A version of the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet first mentioned homosexuality, characterizing it as an unnatural affection, a sex perversion and an abomination.[371][372][373]
  • 1991 – The First Presidency sent a letter on November 14 to be read in all congregations stating homosexual thoughts and feelings can and should be overcome by sincere repentance, persistent effort, the help of others, and counsel from a bishop. The letter made a distinction between thoughts and behavior, and called for love and understanding for those struggling to overcome gay thoughts.[374][375][376]
Cover of a 1992 manual which marked a shift in LDS church rhetoric towards changing homosexual behavior rather than feelings.[17]:40–41
  • 1992 – The church published a guide for local leaders which stated that homosexual feelings can be overcome, and sometimes heterosexual feelings emerge leading to happy, eternal marriage relationships.[102]:6[17]:40–41 The pamphlet did not frame homosexuality as a disease corresponding to the recent change by the World Health Organization removing homosexuality as a mental disorder.[334]
  • 1994 – The First Presidency issued a statement encouraging members to contact their legislators in an effort to reject same-sex marriage.[19][377]
  • 1995 – First presidency member James Faust wrote an article denying any biological components in the causes of homosexuality.[41]:58 He also stated that gay relationships would help unravel society.[87]
"The Family: A Proclamation to the World" is a 1995 LDS church statement used as a legal document in several court case amicus briefs opposing same-sex marriage.[378]
  • 1995 – Church president Gordon B. Hinckley read "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" in the Fall General Conference which states that marriage between a man and a woman is essential and ordained of God. It also teaches that gender is an essential part of one's eternal identity and purpose.[47]:154–155[107] The document has been submitted by the church in several amicus briefs as evidence against legalizing same-sex marriages.[378]
  • 1995 – Church president Hinckley condemned same-sex marriage in the October General Conference, but invited members of the church reach out and sympathize with homosexual individuals.[44]:45–46[379][380]
  • 1995 – An article by Dallin H. Oaks denounced gay bashing and gave a nuanced view on potential biological components of the etiology of homosexuality. It also advised against using the sexual identifiers gay or lesbian.[334][88]
  • 1995 – The church's Family Services published a manual for practitioners which stated that dysfunctional family relationships and abuse were at the root of homosexuality, and gave advice on how to prevent and treat homosexuality.[381]:107[382]
During his 13 years as president, Hinckley brought a shift in tone towards empathy in church public discussions on homosexuality.[44]:45[383]:62
  • 1997 – Church president Gordon B. Hinckley gave an interview in which he called gay members of the church good people and said they're not reprimanded for their attractions unless involved in sexual transgressions. He affirmed that gay Mormons must live a celibate life.[384][103]:162
  • 1998 – The Church Handbook was updated to ban members from full-time missionary service who had participated in "homosexual acts" from age 15 (unless it had been at least one year since the occurrence and there was strong evidence of reformation).[116]:81 The update also included the first church policy sections on homosexuality and same-gender marriage, stating that members with homosexual thoughts, feelings, or actions should be helped to understand faith, repentance, life's purpose, and to accept responsibility for their thoughts.[47]:166 Additionally, the manual encourages members to appeal to government officials to reject same-sex marriage.[116]:159
  • 1999 – The Area Presidency of the North America West Area sent a May 11 letter to all area leaders directing members to donate their means and time to pass the Knight Initiative against same-sex marriage in California.[385] A second letter invited church members to donate money,[386] and a third letter (sent a month and a half before the proposition would pass) asked members to redouble their efforts in contacting neighbors and to place provided yard signs.[387]
  • 1999 – The church published an Ensign article which states that homosexuality is changeable and heterosexual feelings will emerge and is caused by personality traits, sexual abuse, familial factors, and treatment by peers.[346]:346[277]


  • 2000Packer gave an October General Conference address in which he calls homosexuality a temptation which may lead to despair, disease, and death that begins as an innocent curiosity which leads to a pattern and then addiction. He said the idea that God created homosexual people with "overpowering, unnatural desires" is false and that they can be cured and healed.[388][389][390]
The 2001 update to the youth guideline pamphlet removed the harsher language of the 1990 edition which characterized homosexual feelings as unnatural, perverse, and an abomination.
  • 2001 – The eighth version of the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet was published updating the section discussing homosexuality to only say that homosexual activity is a serious sin and that those "struggling with same-gender attraction" should talk to their parents and bishop.[130][141]
  • 2004 – The church published True to the Faith, which states that homosexual activity is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and prevents people from receiving blessings. The book further says that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder and denying the Holy Ghost.[391][392]:10
  • 2004 – The First Presidency issued a July 7 statement saying the church favors a constitutional amendment barring the legal status of any marriage outside one between one man and one woman.[393][394] A few months later on October 19 they expounded this stance with the First Presidency Statement on Same-Gender Marriage supporting the 2004 movement for this amendment.[395] The letter states that the church reaches out with understanding and respect for homosexual persons and realizes there may be great loneliness in their lives, but defend their stance.[19][392]:10
  • 2006Jeffrey R. Holland and Marlin K. Jensen were interviewed in March with questions about various topics including homosexuality by PBS. Jensen stated that he did not think the church could ever change its position on homosexual behavior, and acknowledged that this creates a lot of pain since homosexual Mormons have no hope of falling in love in a church-sanctioned way.[396] Holland stated that he doesn't anticipate a change in church stance, and affirmed that gay or lesbian inclinations disappear after death.[139][141][397]:36
  • 2006 – The Church Handbook was updated again,[398] stating that the church reaches out with respect and understanding to same-sex attracted individuals.[399]
  • 2006 – A revision to the church's Mission Presidents Handbook recommended that, barring unusual circumstances, a missionary who makes a belated confession to a serious transgression like pre-mission homosexual acts should be sent home.[400] The manual also specified that any baptismal candidate confessing to a homosexual transgression during a baptismal interview (usually with a mission district leader) needs a searching interview with the local mission president for baptism approval.[401]
Apostle Oaks has been an influential figure in church interactions with homosexual people, instituting a system of surveillance to identify and expel or attempt to "cure" homosexual students as president of BYU in the '70s, and doing numerous important video interviews and articles on the topic in the '80s, '90s, and 2000s.
  • 2006 – The church published an extensive April interview[3] with Oaks and Lance B. Wickman to clarify the church’s stance on homosexuality.[3][402] In the interview, Wickman states that the church doesn't counsel against conversion therapy and that it may be appropriate for some. However, Oaks states they can't endorse the aversive therapies recommended in the past to fix it, and they don’t accept responsibility for the abuses suffered by individuals who had experienced this now disavowed therapy method. He further stated that giving even same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships the same government rights given to opposite-sex marriage would not be appropriate. He added that a mixed-orientation marriage would be appropriate for a gay member who could put homosexual feelings in the background and felt a great attraction to someone of the opposite sex.[144] He compared devout homosexual Mormons to those with physical or mental disabilities who will also not be able to marry, and added that same-sex attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and will not exist in the next life. On family acceptance he stated that parents of gay children in same-sex relationships might tell them they can't stay overnight or expect any public appearances with the couple that may imply an approval of their relationship. He further stated the Lord’s way is to love the sinner while condemning the sin.[3][141]
  • 2006 – In April Apostle Russell M. Nelson signed a letter with other religious leaders urging the US government to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage. On May 25 the First Presidency released another statement supporting the amendment and urging members to contact their senators.[403][392]:10–11
  • 2006 – Apostle Dallin H. Oaks gave an October General Conference address in which he stated change is possible but don't focus on the causes of same-sex attraction. Oaks then explained that if faith, prayers, and priesthood don't heal one from an affliction that the Atonement can help one bear the burden.[404]
  • 2007 – The church's BYU Board of Trustees, under the direction of First Presidency member Monson, revised the Honor Code in April to clarify that coming out is not an Honor Code issue, while continuing to ban all forms of physical intimacy expressing homosexual feelings.[405][406][141]
This was the first church publication on homosexuality produced in nearly three decades for members to read since "To the One" and "A Letter to a Friend" were released in 1978.
  • 2007 – In July, the church published the booklet "God Loveth His Children" summarizing church teachings on homosexuality.[44]:46[140][141]
  • 2008 – The First Presidency again urged California members to do all they can by giving effort and time to help pass a state amendment banning same-sex marriage in a June 29 letter.[334][407] A few months later Apostles Ballard and Cook and L. Whitney Clayton gave an October 8 satellite broadcast[408] to all California members titled "The Divine Institution of Marriage Broadcast." In the broadcast they asked members to donate four hours per week and to set aside Saturdays morning to calling people and other efforts supporting the passage of Prop 8. They clarified that tolerance does not mean tolerating transgression, and noted the existence of temple-worthy members attracted to the same sex. Additionally, a video[409] of Apostle Bednar answering youth's questions was shown from the church's official website PreservingMarriage.org.[410] Members were directed to register on the coalition website ProtectMarriage.com.[411][412][413]
  • 2009 – On September 19 Seventy Bruce C. Hafen promised members of Evergreen that if they were faithful they may develop heterosexual attractions in this life, and would be resurrected with heterosexual attractions, citing apostle Oaks and affirming that "it MUST be true" (emphasis in original).[383]:79[414][138]

2010 to present[edit]

  • 2010 – A 2010 update to the Church Handbook noted that the records of adult members who had repeated homosexual activities would be permanently annotated.[415] It also advised that homosexual activity during or after the last three teenage years would bar someone from missionary service.[415] The Handbook 2 also stated that members who experience same-sex attraction but don't engage in homosexual behavior may receive church callings and temple recommends.[416]
  • 2010 – Apostle Packer delivered an October conference address stating that The Family: A Proclamation to the World qualified as a revelation[417] homosexual desires are not inborn since God would not do that to anyone.[418] His characterization of same-sex physical attractions as something impure and unnatural to overcome sparked an October 7 protest in which thousands surrounded Temple Square.[26][185] He later softened his words in the speech's print version to only say there were no inborn temptations.[419][420][334]
  • 2011 – The church's BYU Honor Code was updated to remove the ban on the advocacy and promotion of homosexual behavior as being morally acceptable.[141][421]
  • 2012 – In May the church released a statement approving the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) administration's decision to remove the 1991 ban on homosexual youth.[422][423] The release stated that sexual orientation had never disqualified boys from joining LDS troops as long as they abided by church standards barring any pre-marital sexual activity,[424][425] though, the policy remains unclear for young men participating in same-sex dating without sexual activity. In 2010, Mormon scouts constituted the largest group of young men in the BSA (21% in 2010).[426]
This header was at the top of the LDS church's first official website on homosexuality from December 2012 until an update in October 2016.
  • 2012 – In December the church launched a website dedicated to the topic of homosexuality in an effort to encourage understanding.[427] The website stated that individuals don't choose to experience same-sex attractions.[428][429][141]
  • 2015 – Church leaders held a "Fairness for All" news conference on January 27 supporting LGBT non-discrimination laws for housing and employment that would also protect religious individuals.[430] Apostle Christofferson called for a balance between religious freedom and LGBT rights while Neill F. Marriott of the Young Women's presidency recognized the centuries of ridicule, persecution, and violence against homosexuals. Apostle Oaks followed stating that the church rejects persecution based on gender or sexual orientation and called for legislation protecting religious freedoms and LGBT citizens in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Apostle Holland closed outlining the church's stance on religious freedom.[431][432][433] In answer to a press question afterwards Christofferson affirmed his love for his gay brother Tom who was in a 20-year relationship with a man.[434][435][141]
  • 2015 – In early March the church released a public statement[436] and employed its lobbyists[437] to garner support for a proposed nondiscrimination and religious rights bill which would grant housing and employment protection for LGBT persons in Utah. Though similar bills had failed 6 times before,[438] SB 296 was passed on March 11 and another statement of church approval was released.[439] the new law (nicknamed the "Utah Compromise")[440] passed and was praised by many.[441][442]
  • 2015 – Three days after the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage the First Presidency sent a June 29 letter to be read to every US congregation affirming changing US law would not change God's moral law. The letter clarified that leaders should not perform same-sex marriages, and that any church property cannot be used for activities related to same-sex marriages. The letter welcomed all visitors on church property as long as LDS standards of conduct were respected.[443][444]
  • 2015 – Following a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy change on July 27 allowing for gay scout leaders[445] (though allowing for churches to continue banning them)[446] the church stated that it had always welcomed gay youth, but that allowing openly gay leaders was inconsistent with church doctrine. The official press release (preceded by one on May 21[447] and July 13[448]) alluded to a potential change in church-BSA relations. Despite the majority of church members wanting to drop relations with the BSA,[449] however, no change in relations occurred.[450]
  • 2015 – On November 5 an updated letter to leaders for the Church Handbook was leaked. A new policy banned a child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship from baby blessings, baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination, and missionary service until the child was not living with their homosexual parent(s), was of legal age, and disavowed same-gender cohabitation and marriage, in addition to receiving approval from the First Presidency. The policy update added that entering a same-sex marriage was a type of "apostasy", mandating a disciplinary council.[188][27] The next day, apostle Christofferson stated that the policy was about love and protecting children from difficulties, challenges, and conflicts between parents and the church.[451][141] On November 13, the First Presidency released a letter clarifying that the policy only applied to children who lived mostly with the parent in a same-sex relationship, and that those who had already received ordinances before the change could continue with further ordinances.[452][453] The next day around 1,500 members gathered across from the Church Office to submit their resignation letters in response to the policy change, with thousands more resigning online in the weeks after.[164][186][29] Two months later, apostle Nelson stated that the change was revealed to President Monson in a sacred moment when the Lord inspired him to declare the will of the Lord.[454]
  • 2016 – The church released a statement through spokesman Dale Jones on January 28 mourning the reported suicides of 32 LGBT Mormons. The release stated that leaders and members are taught to reach out in an active, caring way to all, especially to youth who feel estranged or isolated.[312][141]
  • 2016 – On February 17 church spokesperson Dale Jones spoke against passing any LGBT-related laws which could affect the balance of religious liberty and gay rights.[455] The statement was in reference to proposed Utah hate crime bill SB107 which would add sexual orientation to the current list of characteristics protected from hate crimes in Utah.[456] The bill failed as it had in past years and its Mormon Republican sponsor criticized his church for its opposition to the bill citing the church's press release as the reason for its failure.[457][458]
  • 2016 – Apostle David A. Bednar answered a member's question in a February 23 broadcast stating that there are no homosexual members of the church since we are not defined by sexual attraction or behavior. He compared homosexuality to a physical handicap.[459]
  • 2016 – Church spokesman Eric Hawkins stated on March 15 that the church denounces any therapy that subjects an individual to abusive practices and hopes LGBT Mormons find compassion and understanding from family members, professional counselors and church members.[460] The statement was in response to media inquiries around the experiences of a lesbian Mormon teen subjected to physically abusive therapy attempting to change her attractions which lead to a suicide attempt.[461][141]
The 2016 website update contained the first church disavowal of all therapy focusing on changing sexual orientation.
  • 2016 – In June the Mexican area authority presidency had a letter read in congregations around the country urging members to oppose the national legalization of same-sex marriage and pointed them to the political organization Conciencia Nacional por la Libertad Religiosa.[462][463]
  • 2016 – In October, the official Mormons and Gays website was revised and moved to mormonandgay.lds.org.[464] The update supported members in identifying as gay[465][104][141] and noted that therapy focusing on changing sexual orientation is unethical.[16][466]
  • 2017 – The Pacific area presidency sent a letter to be read in September in all Australian congregations which reemphasized the church's position against same-sex marriage and parenting and urged members to "vote their conscience" in the upcoming national referendum on the issue.[467]
  • 2017 – The apostle Oaks stated that the Family Proclamation's teachings on same-sex marriage were not changeable policies but statements of eternal truth, the will of God, and the basis for church teachings and practice over the last two decades. He lamented the increase in public acceptance of same-sex marriage and acknowledged the conflicts with friends and family that opposing this acceptance could cause. He further stated that despite the conflict church members should choose God and the LDS Church's plan and way.[468][469]

See also[edit]


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  53. ^ Homosexuality. Salt Lake City, UT: LDS Church. 1981. p. 2. It is inconceivable that—as some involved in homosexual behavior claim—[the Lord] would permit his children to be born with desires and inclinations which would require behavior contrary to his plan. Also quoted in this 'Newsweek' article.
  54. ^ Oaks, Dallin (October 1995). "Same-Gender Attraction". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice ... [and] may have some relationship to inheritance.
  55. ^ Rector, Hartman Jr. (April 1981). Turning the Hearts. Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church. Event occurs at 6:47. [T]o be homosexual ... I am sure is an acquired addiction, just as drugs, alcohol and pornography are. Video also available at churchofjesuschrist.org
  56. ^ Kimball, Spencer W. (1980), President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality, Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious ... sin of homosexuality.
  57. ^ Brown, Victor L. (April 1970). Wanted: Parents With Courage. Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church. pp. 31–33. Archived from the original on October 21, 2017. A normal 12- or 13-year-old boy or girl exposed to pornographic literature could develop into a homosexual.
  58. ^ Benson, Ezra. "Fundamentals of Enduring Family Relationships". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. [S]exual promiscuity, homosexuality, drug abuse, alcoholism, vandalism, pornography, and violence. These grave problems are symptoms of failure in the home ....
  59. ^ Kimball, Spencer. "Listen to the Prophets". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. Retrieved May 25, 2017. Once the carnal in man is no longer checked by the restraints of family life and by real religion, there comes an avalanche of appetites ... whether it is an increase in homosexuality, corruption, drugs, or abortion.
  60. ^ Brown, Victor. "Two Views of Sexuality". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. Parents need to know that lack of proper affection in the home can result in unnatural behavior in their children such as homosexuality ....
  61. ^ a b Understanding and Changing Homosexual Orientation Problems. LDS Church. 1981. pp. 6–7. If the father is rejecting or uninvolved, or if the mother becomes 'smothering' in an attempt to fill the void left by a weak father, the child can become ... a prime candidate for homosexual (homoerotic) thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  62. ^ Clarke, J. Richard. "Ministering to Needs through LDS Social Services". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. Homosexuality would not occur where there is a normal, loving father-and-son relationship.
  63. ^ a b Brown Jr., Victor L.; Bergin, Allen E. (1973). Homosexuality: Welfare Services Packet 1. LDS Church. pp. 4–5. Homosexual behavior begins in various ways. Some young children are molested by strangers, acquaintances, or even relatives. ...However, not all who are molested become homosexual.
  64. ^ Byrd, A. Dean (September 1999). "When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. Homosexuality results from an interaction of social, biological, and psychological factors. These factors may include ... sexual abuse ....
  65. ^ Packer, Boyd K. (1978). To The One. LDS Church. pp. 36–38. Have you explored the possibility that the cause [of homosexual temptation] ... will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness—selfishness in a very subtle form? ... It is very possible to cure it by treating selfishness.
  66. ^ Packer, Boyd K. (1978). To The One. LDS Church. pp. 34, 39. There is a reason why we in the Church do not talk more openly about [homosexual temptation]. ...[W]e can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them.
  67. ^ Brown, Victor. "The Meaning of Morality". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. The Lord ... did not intend either of the sexes to adopt the other’s traits ... men should look and act like men and that women should look and act like women. When these differences are ignored ... [it] can lead to ... homosexuality.
  68. ^ Bergin, Allen (October 1988). "Questions and Answers". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. For example, though a person may suffer from homosexual inclinations that are caused by some combination of biology and environment ....
  69. ^ "Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: "Same-Gender Attraction"". Mormon Newsroom. LDS Church. September 2006. Whether nature or nurture—those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.
  70. ^ "Same-Sex Attraction". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. We may not know precisely why some people feel attracted to others of the same sex, but for some it is a complex reality and part of the human experience.
  71. ^ Oaks, Dallin (October 1995). "Same-Gender Attraction". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. We should refrain from using [gay and lesbian] as nouns to identify specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage.
  72. ^ Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems. LDS Church. 1992. p. 3. Retrieved November 3, 2016. Be careful not to label the person as 'homosexual' or 'gay'. Such labels can undermine the person's believe that change is possible ....
  73. ^ Henderson, Emma (March 2, 2016). "Mormon leader claims church has no homosexual members". Independent. ESI Media. First I want to change the question – there are no homosexual members of the church. We are not defined by sexual attraction. We are not defined by sexual behavior. We are sons and daughters of god and all of us have different challenges in the flesh.
  74. ^ "Same-Sex Attraction". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. LDS Church. Identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin and does not prohibit one from participating in the Church, holding callings, or attending the temple.
  75. ^ Quinn, D. Michael (1996). Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-0252022050. Shortly after that 1959 meeting of the Church Board of Education, BYU began 'aversion therapy' to 'cure,' 'repair,' or 'reorient' the same-sex desires of Mormon males. These young men were referred to this program by BYU's mental health counselors, by LDS bishops and stake presidents, by BYU's office to enforce student standards, or by referrals from outside BYU (such as mission presidents and general authorities).
  76. ^ Blattner, Robert L. (October 1, 1975). "Counseling the Homosexual In A Church Setting". Issues in Religion and Psychotherapy. 1 (1): 3. Retrieved November 14, 2016. What is the church's feeling about electric shock and other forms of behavior modification? ... Our experience so far has been that most people coming to us can be helped with it.
  77. ^ a b Bingham, Ronald D.; Potts, Richard W. (April 1, 1993). "Homosexuality: An LDS Perspective". Issues in Religion and Psychotherapy. Brigham Young University. 19 (1): 14. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2017. Most Church leaders seem to agree that professional counselors can play an important role in helping individuals experiencing problems with homosexuality. ... The Church has supported efforts of the LDS Social Services and other consulting professionals to research the issues and to offer a reparative therapy approach which assumes that homosexual behavior can be changed.
  78. ^ "Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: "Same-Gender Attraction"". Mormon Newsroom. LDS Church. September 2006. If a young man says, 'Look, I really want these [homosexual] feelings to go away… I would do anything for these feelings to go away,' is it legitimate to look at clinical therapy of some sort that would address those issues? Well, it may be appropriate for that person to seek therapy. Certainly the Church doesn’t counsel against that kind of therapy.
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  81. ^ Kimball, Spencer W. (1969), The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, ISBN 978-0-88494-192-7, Some have ... convinced themselves that they ... have no desire toward the opposite sex. ... [L]et this individual repent of his perversion, force himself to return to normal pursuits and interests ... with the opposite sex, and this normal pattern [heterosexual dating] can become natural again. Quoted on page 31 of "Conservative Christian Identity & Same-Sex Orientation: The Case of Gay Mormons."
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  83. ^ Understanding and Changing Homosexual Orientation Problems. LDS Church. 1981. pp. 20, 25. Homosexual orientation problems ... are often a reflection of poor interpersonal relationships with ... peers. ... Discuss dating and dating practices. Give female interaction assignments. ...[S]peaking to a girl may be considered a task, as may inviting her to a movie. However, to actually meet her, escort her to the movie, escort her home, and say goodnight is an experience cycle ... designed to meet a predetermined goal.
  84. ^ Homosexuality. Salt Lake City, UT: LDS Church. 1981. p. 6. Retrieved November 22, 2016. Encourage the member to be in appropriate situations with members of the opposite sex, even if he has to force himself. ... Encourage him (if single) to begin dating and gradually increase its frequency.
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