Imagine Dragons (Pic: Drew de F Fawkes)
American rock band Imagine Dragons used their win at the Billboard Music Awards to speak out for LGBTQ youth by condemning conversion therapy.
The four-member group took home the award for Top Rock Artist at the event on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
When on stage to accept the honour, lead singer and LGBTQ ally Dan Reynolds took the opportunity to make a powerful statement.
“I just want to take this moment to say that there are 34 states that have no laws banning conversion therapy. Thirty-four! And on top of that 58% of our LGBTQ population live in those states,” he said.
Reynolds continued, to cheers from the audience: “This can change but it’s going to take all of us talking to our state legislators, pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth.
“We’ve seen with conversion therapy that our LGBTQ youth have double the rate of depression, triple the rate of suicide after conversion therapy. It’s not working, it needs to change,” he concluded.
Reynolds appeared in the 2018 documentary, Believer, which looked at LGBTQ people and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). The Grammy-winning band have sold 12 million albums and 35 million singles worldwide.
So-called conversion therapy is the discredited practice of trying to change an individual’s sexuality or gender identity using psychological or spiritual interventions. The practice has been shown to be ineffective and abusive and is banned in a number of US states.
The World Psychiatric Association and many other mental health bodies have asserted that trying to “cure” LGBTQ people doesn’t work and is both dangerous and unethical. In April 2018, the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) reaffirmed its condemnation of conversion therapy.