SALT LAKE CITY — Forty-four percent of people in Utah agree with Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer that it’s possible for homosexuality to be overcome, according to a statewide poll released Saturday.
The Salt Lake Tribune poll found 31 percent disagree and 25 percent were unsure whether same-sex attraction can be changed.
The poll also showed a break in belief along party lines. Sixty-one percent of Republicans surveyed think same-sex attractions can be changed, while only 8 percent of Democrats agreed. Only 13 percent of Republicans said change isn’t possible compared with 77 percent of Democrats.
The poll also found that 55 percent of Mormon respondents believe it’s possible to change same-sex attractions compared with 20 percent of non-Mormon respondents.
Packer sparked protests last month when he said that homosexuality is an immoral condition that can and should be overcome.
The survey of 625 registered voters was conducted Oct. 25-27 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Advocates for the gay community said Packer’s remarks run contrary to science and could harm youths struggling with their sexual orientation.
Bill Bradshaw, a molecular biologist and professor emeritus at Brigham Young University, said a vast number of scientific studies in biology, biochemistry and neuroscience indicate that sexual orientation is biologically “programmed” in human beings.
“I’m convinced by these data that homosexuality is inborn. It is innate,” said Bradshaw, a former Mormon mission president and co-chairman of Family Fellowship, a support group for Mormon parents of gay children. “It’s true that there are those who dispute that conclusion.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that having same-sex attractions isn’t sinful but acting on those attractions is.
Last year, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution warning mental health professionals not to tell clients they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.