* Press release…
Criminal defendants who kill LGBTQ people can no longer be acquitted by claiming a panic defense–that they were provoked by a fear of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity–under a new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner that was part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ Illinoisans.
“This new law ensures LGBTQ people are not blamed for the violence perpetrated against them simply because of who they are,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said Monday. “We thank Gov. Rauner for supporting the panic defense ban. With the unanimous support of the legislature and the governor’s action, Illinois continues its proud bipartisan tradition of advancing justice for LGBTQ Illinoisans.”
The measure, SB 1761, which the governor signed on Friday after unanimously passing both chambers of the General Assembly, is part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois. The agenda also included two other bipartisan bills signed into law in recent days. The LGBTQ Public Service Law (SB 1670), which enhances LGBTQ representation and visibility on state boards and commissions, was approved by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 18. The third bill, HB 1785, modernizes state law so transgender individuals won’t have to undergo unnecessary surgical procedures at great expense in order to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. It was signed last Friday.
“This is a huge achievement. With the approval of these three bills by the legislature and the governor, Illinois is moving forward on LGBTQ rights while the federal government reverses course and Donald Trump is going against the tide of history,” Johnson said. “These bills improve the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans, and having them signed into law also improves the social and political fabric for everyone in the state. It could have only happened through the collaboration of Illinois Democrats and Republicans. Working together, we can achieve great things.”
An initiative of Equality Illinois, Senate Bill 1761 was sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and state Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford. The legislation unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in May. SB 1761 is, we believe, the first bill in the country supporting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) rights to pass with unanimous support from a state legislature.
* From Friday…
[Gov. Rauner] also signed legislation that would make it easier for transgender people to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.
Formerly, state law said transgender people could only change their birth certificates if a doctor said they had transition surgery. The new law would allow for a change if a medical or mental health provider confirms someone has received “clinically appropriate” treatment. A range of practices including hormone therapy would be covered, using a similar standard that applies to U.S. passports.
Supporters said people were often denied coverage for preventive care like pap smears and prostate exams if their birth certificates and identities don’t match, saying the previous surgery requirement was an unnecessary burden.
“It’s basic common sense that a person’s gender should be recognized and respected, whether or not that person has had any particular kind of surgery,” John Knight, director of the LGBT and HIV Project for the ACLU of Illinois. “I’m extremely proud of our state for taking this important step to modernize a law that has been a significant barrier in transgender people’s lives for many, many years.”