Illinois House passes conversion therapy ban, moves to Senate

Tue. May 19, 2015 7:55 PM by News Staff

Springfield, IL - A bipartisan Illinois House majority on Tuesday approved a measure to protects minors from anti-gay "conversion therapy." 

House Bill 217, the Illinois Youth Mental Health Protection Act, passed 68-43 with sixty-one Democrats and seven Republicans, including the House Republican leader Rep. Jim Durkin, voting in favor. The measure was sponsored in the House by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and now moves to the state Senate, where it is sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss.

Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, is calling on the Illinois Senate to approve House Bill 217 before the scheduled May 31 adjournment of the General Assembly. 

"Ending conversion therapy is our top priority in the legislature right now. Trying to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity, should not be attempted because it risks the health of LGBT youth," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

"We thank Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the chief House sponsor of HB217, for protecting the young people of Illinois and advancing this important legislation, and Sen. Daniel Biss, who is now taking up the bill in the Senate," Cherkasov said.

Equality Illinois and allied organizations have held two meetings with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner about the issue, and he expressed concern about the therapy's effect on young people.

The bill prohibits licensed mental health care providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with anyone under the age of 18. Sexual orientation change efforts are defined by the bill as any treatment or practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Such practices can negatively impact the mental and physical health of LGBT youth. For instance, LGBT youth who experience rejection and social stigmatization are more likely to have high levels of depression, more likely to engage in substance abuse, and more likely to attempt suicide.

Every major mental health organization in Illinois supports HB 217, including the Illinois Psychological Association, Illinois Psychiatric Society, American Psychoanalytic Association, Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The legislation does not apply to religious leaders and would not impact the ability of clergy to practice their religion. Similar legislation is now law in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, and the Oregon legislature has sent a bill to the governor. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to the New Jersey law.

From news release.