Illinois House committee advances bill against ex-gay therapy

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Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy. - PHOTO: Courtesy

Illinois' House Human Services Committee on March 26 approved a bill to protect minors from so-called ex-gay therapy.

The legislation, introduced by Chicago Democrat Kelly Cassidy, who is gay, is called the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act. The measure would prohibit mental health providers from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors.

The committee vote was 9-6.

After the committee action, Equality Illinois called on the full House to approve the measure.

Said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois: "This bill would ensure that the most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, are not targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate."

Conversion therapies for youths pretend to supposedly "cure" people of being gay, but have actually proven to be very harmful and are actively opposed by leading mental health and medical professional groups, said Cherkasov.

He said Equality Illinois, the state's largest and oldest LGBT advocacy group, is "grateful for the work of Rep. Cassidy and her cosponsors in advancing the bill and urge the full House to quickly follow suit."

Legislation against ex-gay therapy for minors has been passed in California and New Jersey. 

Christian right opponents of the law sought to ask voters in California to repeal the law but failed to gather enough legal signatures for a ballot referendum.

The right also has challenged New Jersey's measure.