On Thursday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill prohibiting mental health professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors. Counselors who continue the practice of conversion therapy will risk losing their licenses once the Youth Mental Health Protection Act goes into effect next year.
Illinois joins Oregon, California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia as the fourth state to ban the practice among people under 18. What makes the law especially unique, though, is the legal basis used for the measure.
The law considers gay conversion therapy as a form of consumer fraud, which Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the bill's sponsor, said makes it more clearly defined. She released a statement saying, "Our version of this legislation is the most comprehensive bill in the nation, barring health providers from engaging in this practice and affording survivors access to consumer fraud action against the perpetrators of this abuse."
The law also prohibits people from advertising any service that "represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder, or illness."
Gay conversion therapy is a form of counseling that seeks to turn LGBT people straight and is based on the belief that being gay is a choice. The controversial practice received particular attention after the death of Leelah Alcorn, a trans teen who posted a suicide note on Tumblr urging people to ban the practice.
President Obama called for an end to the practice in response to her death, and the White House released a statement saying, "The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm."
"As part of our dedication to protecting America's youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors," Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett said.