Gay conversion therapy now illegal in Illinois
A bill to protect LGBTI youth from gay conversion therapy has become law in the US state of Illinois.
The new law keeps therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person younger than 18.
Conversion therapy is based on the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness that can be overcome.
The American Psychiatric Association describes conversion therapy as misguided and unethical.
California, New Jersey, Washington DC and Oregon have all made conversion therapy illegal.
“Illinois families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain,” said Samantha Ames, staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“Most importantly, Illinois kids can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to fix who they are.”
John Paulk, a former poster boy for conversion therapy in the nineties when he claimed to be cured of being gay, now leads an openly gay life.
Paulk told Newsweek last year: “I am very much against any therapies that would attempt to coerce a child into a box for their sexuality.”
In Australia it is still legal to offer conversion therapy type services.
Religious counselling from organisations such as Liberty Brisbane offer “[a] support group for parents and those whose loved ones have same sex tendencies” and speak of “sexual wholeness through Jesus Christ” and freedom from “unwanted same sex attraction”.
If you want to talk to someone about your sexuality call QLife LGBTI counselling on 1800 184 527. QLife has online chat at www.qlife.org.au – phones and chat operate 5.30pm to 10.30pm, 7 days a week.
image: John Paulk claimed, mistakenly, that he had been turned straight in this 1998 Newsweek article.