Illinois has become the fifth jurisdiction in the US to outlaw attempts by mental health providers to change the sexuality or gender identity of LGBTQ minors.
Governor Bruce Rauner signed the legislation into law on Thursday, with Illinois joining the states of California, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia in protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangers of so-called conversion therapy.
The law was earlier overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and General Assembly and will come into effect on January 1, 2016.
Medical and mental health organisations around the world have rejected trying to change people’s sexual orientation or gender expression. The practice has been described as ineffective and potentially harmful and is linked to extreme depression and even suicide.
“With this tremendous step, LGBT youth in Illinois are now protected from a dangerous and appalling practice based on junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin.
“Discredited by every major mental health, medical, and child welfare organisation, conversion ‘therapy’ uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are,” he added.
While the South African Society of Psychiatrists has rejected the practice of conversion therapy, it remains legal and has been practised in South Africa, primarily by some religious groups.