With Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature on Thursday, Illinois became the fourth state to ban gay conversion therapy – the process of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation, for minors.
The bill bans state-certified mental health professionals from performing “conversion therapy” on minors or referring them to other authorities that offer the discredited practice. Therapists may continue to counsel minors about their sexual orientation but may not attempt to change their sexuality.
Illinois’ law goes into affect January 1st, 2016.
Illinois joins a growing number of states that have similar bans in place – California, New Jersey, and Oregon, along with Washington, D.C. have all passed conversion therapy bans in recent years. Unlike other states though, Illinois’ law also classifies conversion therapy as consumer fraud which enables survivors with a legal remedy against those who performed the therapy.
“As advocates and allies, we applaud this legislation because it means that our children can no longer be told they are broken and must change who they are,”said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy – the bill’s cosponsor. “We are optimistic because this law is one step closer to a more just and accepting society. And more than anything else, we celebrate this progress because the end of this cruel practice will result in countless young lives saved.”
Those in support of conversion therapy often refer to it as reparative therapy because they claim that homosexuality is a choice and can be overcome by counseling. However, nearly all mainstream medical associations believe otherwise. The list of medical associations who have denounced the practice includes the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
LGBT youth who are rejected by their families and/or peers are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, six times more likely to experience depression, and three times more likely to abuse drugs, according to recent research from the Human Rights Campaign.