Mormon church says it’s not opposed to hate-crime bill

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church says it won’t oppose strengthening hate-crimes legislation in Utah to include protections for LGBT people.

The announcement Thursday could break a long-running legislative logjam on the issue.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ lobbyist Marty Stephens said that the church spoke out to clarify the faith’s “misconstrued” position on the topic.

Utah has a hate-crime law, but it doesn’t protect specific groups and prosecutors have said it’s essentially unusable.

Efforts to update the law have failed in recent years after the influential church weighed in by saying the proposal would upset a balance between religious and LGBT rights.

The Human Rights Campaign says Utah is one of 15 states that have hate crime laws that don’t cover anti-LGBT-crimes.

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