Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature on legislation banning gay conversion therapy on minors brings to four the number of states, plus the District of Columbia, that have outlawed the controversial practice of “curing” a person’s sexual orientation through counseling or behavior modification.
Rauner, a Republican, said the state “has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”
The new law in Illinois differs from legislation enacted by legislatures in California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C., that enacted anti-conversion therapy laws during the last few years. In those states, the psychology licensing boards are charged with disciplining therapists that employ conversion therapy.
The Illinois law states that gay conversion therapy violates the state’s consumer fraud act and allows people who have been subjected to the practice to seek action against the provider.
New Jersey paved the way for linking conversion therapy to consumer fraud in a groundbreaking ruling in which a judge earlier this year found JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) guilty of committing fraud and ordered its owners to pay damages of $72,400 to four former clients because it falsely claimed that homosexuality was a disease.