Gay and lesbian children in Illinois would no longer be able to be placed in so-called “conversion therapy” under a new bill in the General Assembly.
The legislation would make it illegal for mental health specialists to try to change the sexual orientation of anyone under 18. Bernard Cherkasov, chief executive of Equality Illinois, says the practice has not only been discredited, it has also proven to be harmful.
“Those individuals who undertake the so-called conversion therapy actually experience depression or suicide attempts at a rate that’s significantly higher than those who don’t do that,” Cherkasov said.
As to how common conversion therapy is in Illinois, Cherkasov doesn’t know. He says the practice is “hard to track” and those offering the therapy are usually only discovered if something goes wrong with one of their patients.
Similar legislation failed last year in the House, but Cherkasov believes there will be greater support this time around.