Equality Illinois has launched a new campaign to officially ban the "ineffectual and dangerous [practice of] conversion therapy," according to the organization.
The group's leaders hope to get the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation that would outlaw conversion therapy during the current legislature's two-year term.
"Illinois should be at the forefront of banning this failed and discredited non-therapy that attempts to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
The campaign's launch follows legislation introduced Friday by State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). The Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act, HB 217, would make it illegal for mental health care specialists to perform conversion therapies on patients under the age of 18.
"It is tragic that LGBT youth suffer at the hands of so-called experts whose therapies have been refuted by every legitimate medical and mental health organization," said Cassidy. "That is why my bill would label the therapy as 'unprofessional conduct' and subject the perpetrator to disciplinary action."
The bill details the negative effect conversion therapy can have on LGBT youth.
"In one study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection," the bill states.
Similar legislation failed in the Illinois House last year by a 44-51 vote. Leaders with Equality Illinois plan to achieve passage of the new bill by educating members of the state legislature on the issue and working to determine the best way to eventually get Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign such a bill. Additionally, the new campaign seeks to rally public support by educating Illinoisans about the perils of conversion therapy.
State Sen. Daniel BIss (D-Evanston) is expected to introduce similar legislation in his chamber. California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have already passed conversion therapy bans.