Three LGBTQ rights laws go into effect Jan. 1

CHICAGO — Three laws supporting LGBTQ rights passed and signed in 2017 will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ rights organization, said they had pushed for all three during the year.

  • The birth certificate modernization law allows transgender people tto update the gender marker on their birth certificate without going through surgery.
  • The panic defense ban prevents suspects from claiming that “panic” over LGBTQ people is an excuse in a murder.
  • The  public service law requires the Governor’s office to report  how many LGBTQ people are appointed to our state boards and commissions.

“Across the country, we have seen attacks on the LGBTQ community increase in number and fervor,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, in a statement. “But in Illinois in 2017, we demonstrated that we can fight back and win thanks to the hard work of LGBTQ Illinoisans and our allies and the support of leaders in the Statehouse.”

The panic defense ban, Senate Bill 1761, was an initiative of Equality Illinois and was sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and state Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford. Under the new law, criminal defendants who kill LGBTQ people can no longer receive a reduced charge by claiming a panic defense. Illinois is the second state to enact such a law.

The birth certificate modernization law, House Bill 1785, was an initiative of a coalition that included Equality Illinois, ACLU of Illinois, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and was sponsored by state Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields. Consistent with modern standards of medical care, the new law modernizes the Illinois Vital Records Act to allow transgender and intersex individuals to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates without undergoing unnecessary and expensive surgical procedures.

The public service law, Senate Bill 1670, was an initiative of Equality Illinois and was sponsored by state Sen. Scott Bennett of Champaign and state Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago. The measure will encourage public service and create a leadership path for LGBTQ Illinoisans by allowing them to self-identify their sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for appointment to state boards and commissions in the same way that other demographic data is currently collected.

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