Equality Illinois announced Jan. 20 that it was launching an initiative to promote passage of a bill banning anti-gay conversion therapy in Illinois.
The legislation, HB 217, or the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act, was filed Jan. 16 by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and prohibits mental health care providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with patients under the age of 18. It also says that providers found to be engaging in such conduct will be subject to discipline by their licensing agency or review board with appropriate jurisdiction.
State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, will soon introduce a counterpart bill in the Senate. Cassidy introduced a similar bill in 2014 but the legislation was voted down in April. She later admitted that she called for a vote too early.
"Illinois should be at the forefront of banning this failed and discredited non-therapy that attempts to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity," said Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov in a Jan. 20 statement. "Conversion therapy bans are the law in California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. Multiple respected medical and mental health organizations have rejected the therapy because it does not work and has the great potential to harm the youth on which is is tried.
"We cannot endanger the LGBT teens of Illinois by attempting to change who they are. We and other organizations that support LGBT youth hear their stories of rejection, and we must fight to help them. We are making the passage of the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act one of our legislative priorities of the 99th Illinois General Assembly."
Transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide Dec. 28, said that she was sent to conversion therapy, where practitioners reinforced the idea that her gender identity was inherently wrong.
Equality Illinois asks Illinoisans who have taken part in conversion therapy to contact the organization at email@example.com .