Equality Illinois Will Continue to Pursue Conversion Therapy Ban
House Gives Split Decisions on Protections for LGBT Minors
CHICAGO (April 11, 2014) – The Illinois House of Representatives took a step forward and a step back in protecting children and minors this week, but Equality Illinois is committed to moving forward with greater protections, the organization said on Friday.
“As the chief sponsor, Rep. Kelly Cassidy built a powerful case for protecting students from bullying in schools, and she led the anti-bullying bill to passage with bipartisan support,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.
“At the same time, we are disappointed in the setback on another bill, the conversion therapy ban, but we will continue to raise the alarm and look for the right moment to seek legislative action to ban the harmful therapy that is opposed by every professional mental health organization in Illinois and the U.S.,” Cherkasov said.
On Thursday, the House voted 64-33 in favor of the measure that strengthens the state’s anti-bullying policies in elementary and secondary schools. However, the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, which would have prohibited mental health professionals from engaging in any effort to change the sexual orientation of a minor under the age of 18, did not receive enough votes to advance to the Senate. Both bills are sponsored by Rep. Cassidy.
And earlier this week, the House overwhelmingly passed a proposed state constitutional amendment 109-5, which would ban voter suppression tactics, including against LGBT Illinoisans.
“The successful votes for the anti-bullying bill and the constitutional amendment, as well as the successful passage last year of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, demonstrate that the legislature is open to hearing reasoned arguments and doing the right thing for protecting Illinoisans,” Cherkasov said.
“We must continue to make that connection for legislators regarding the conversion therapy ban. This debate is not over,” he added. “The most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, must not be targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate.”