Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds used the Billboard Music Awards as a platform to speak out against conversion therapy and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
While accepting the award for Top Rock Artist Wednesday, Reynolds took a moment to inform the audience and viewers of some of the statistics surrounding conversion therapy, the medically discredited practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation through pseudoscientific methods.
“I just want to take this moment to say there are still 34 states that have no laws banning conversion therapy - 34. And on top of that, 58 per cent of our LGBTQ population live in those states,” Reynolds said.
“This can change, but it’s gonna take all of us talking to our state legislation, pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth,” he continued, before describing the link between conversion therapy and depression and suicide rates among LGBT youth.
“It’s not working and needs to change,” the singer concluded amidst cheers from the audience.
Despite public opposition from health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 2018 report from UCLA’s William’s Institute found that “an estimated 698,000 LGBT adults in the US have received conversion therapy” at some point in their lives.
According to the report, “talk therapy” is the most common technique of conversion therapy, but some practitioners have also used “aversion treatments, such as inducing nausea, vomiting, paralysis, and electric shocks”.
In the US, just 16 states and DC have laws banning conversion therapy for minors.
This is not the first time Reynolds, who grew up Mormon, has advocated for LGBTQ+ rights - in 2018 he examined the intersection between the LGBT community and the Mormon faith in an HBO documentary titled “Believer,” which he hoped would influence community and religious leaders.
In 2017, he launched the Loveloud music festival, dedicated to raising awareness of teen suicide and encouraging acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth.
The festival, now in its third year, donates profits to LGBT organisations around the country.
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