Illinois May Enact Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy, Declare It a Fraud

Illinois Capitol in Springfield, Rear angle.
Illinois Capitol in Springfield, Rear angle. | (Photo: Wikipedia)

Illinois may soon become the latest state to pass legislation banning the practice of sexual orientation change efforts therapy for LGBT youth.

Last week the state legislature passed House Bill 217, sending it to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner, who has not indicated whether or not he will sign it into law.

Samantha Ames of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a statement last Friday that she and her organization were proud of the legislature's action.

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The official portrait of Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois who was elected in 2014.
The official portrait of Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois who was elected in 2014. | (Photo: public domain)

"We couldn't be prouder to add Illinois to the list of legislatures that have acted to protect LGBT youth, and we applaud the dedication of Equality Illinois and the tireless coalition on the ground," stated Ames.

"We hope Governor Bruce Rauner will join fellow Republicans like Chris Christie, who signed New Jersey's conversion therapy ban in 2013."

Introduced by Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy, HB 217 sought to ban SOCE therapy for minors and to label commercial ads declaring homosexuality a mental illness as fraud.

"No person or entity may, in the conduct of any trade or commerce, use or employ any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in advertising or otherwise offering conversion therapy services in a manner that represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder, or illness, with intent that others rely upon the concealment, suppression, or omission of such material fact," read HB 217.

"Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a person under the age of 18 by a mental health provider may be considered unprofessional conduct. Mental health providers found to have engaged in a sexual orientation change effort on a patient under the age of 18 may be subject to discipline by the licensing entity or disciplinary review board with competent jurisdiction."

HB 217 was similar to a piece of legislation that Rep. Cassidy had introduced in a previous legislative session which was voted down.

First read in January, HB 217 passed the House in May with a vote of 68 to 43 and last Friday passed the Senate in a vote of 34 to 19, with 1 abstention.

In a statement released Saturday, the conservative group Illinois Family Institute denounced the passage of the bill as a political ploy with little actual regard for protecting minors. The group also complained that the bill makes no distinction between therapies freely chosen by youth and more coercive therapies.

"HB 217 makes no distinction between coercive aversion therapy and 'talk therapies' that would allow minors a measure of autonomy in constructing an identity that does not affirm unchosen, unwanted same-sex attraction," stated IFI.

"This bill is not a reasoned attempt to protect children. It's a political maneuver that serves the strategic interests and profoundly selfish desires of adults committed to perverse activity and delusional thoughts."

At present, California, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have passed similar bills into law. Several states are presently considering similar legislation and many have voted them down.

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