(Springfield, IL, May, 29, 2015)—Today, the Illinois State Senate voted 34-19 to pass House Bill 217, the Illinois Youth Mental Health Protection Act that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of conversion therapy. The bill was overwhelmingly approved 68-43 by the State House earlier this month and is heading to the desk of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.
If signed into law, the bill would make Illinois the fifth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon—to enact a law protecting LGBTQ youth from the lifelong damage caused by these practices, which have been linked to substance abuse, depression, and even suicide.
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect™ Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames said: “We couldn’t be prouder to add Illinois to the list of legislatures that have acted to protect LGBTQ youth, and we applaud the dedication of Equality Illinois and the tireless coalition on the ground. We hope Governor Bruce Rauner will join fellow Republicans like Chris Christie, who signed New Jersey’s conversion therapy ban in 2013. No matter our sexual orientation, gender identity, or political party, we can all agree that children’s lives are worth protecting. We call on Governer Rauner to sign this lifesaving bill and protect LGBTQ youth and their families from these dangerous and fraudulent practices.”
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said: “By passing this important legislation, Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood up for equality and against a dangerous practice that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. We urge Governor Rauner to sign this bipartisan legislation into law and protect the state’s youth from this harmful and discredited practice.”
NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with Equality Illinois, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, including national LGBTQ organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations.
HRC and NCLR have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including the laws passed in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law, which was signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. On Monday May 4, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold New Jersey’s law, which was signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. NCLR attorneys have assisted in the defense of every state bill to date.