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Anti-conversion therapy bill passes out of committee
by Matt Simonette
2015-03-18

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The Illinois House Juvenile Justice Committee, on March 17, voted to send HB 217, a bill that prohibits so-called "conversion therapy" for Illinoisans under the age of 18, to a vote in the full House. The bill's chief House sponsor is state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.

Largely discredited amongst mental health practitioners and organizations, conversion therapy purportedly changes the sexual orientation of a patient.

In a March 17 statement, issued before the vote, Cassidy said, "This archaic form of so-called treatment is based on an outdated and flawed philosophy that greatly increases the risk of suicide and mental anguish to the children who are forced to participate. Today I join with the most respected mental health organizations in our state to call for an immediate end to this abuse."

Cassidy's statement was accompanied by a letter signed by representatives of 14 service providers, including Illinois Psychological Association; Lurie Children's Hospital; American Academy of Pediatrics, Illinois Chapter; Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis; National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter; American Psychoanalytic Association; Illinois Psychiatric Society; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Adler University; Illinois Public Health Association; Institute for Clinical Social Work; Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association; Illinois School Counselor Association; and Coalition of Illinois Counselors.

"Efforts to 'convert' or 'repair' an LGBT person are based on theories with questionable scientific validity," said the statement. "In fact, over the last four decades, conversion therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific evidence to prove their claims of a cure. Instead, sexual orientation change efforts are often guided by forces opposed to civil rights for LGBT people. … We firmly believe that ethical practitioners in Illinois should refrain from attempts to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."

An amendment to the bill, filed by Cassidy March 12, furthermore says that providers offering conversion therapy services may find themselves liable under the state's Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act if they misrepresent homosexuality as a mental disorder when offering their services to clients.

State Sen. Daniel Biss has filed a corresponding bill in the Senate, where it is pending in the Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee.


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