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Illinois LGBTQ+ Advocates Say 2017 Saw Progress

Advocates say progress was made this year when it comes to rights of Illinois residents who are LGBTQ+.

"2017 was a really unprecedented year across the state in terms of policy victories," says Mike Ziri - public policy director for Equality Illinois. He says three important bills passed the legislature with bi-partisan support and approval from the governor. One bans the legal defense of so-called "gay panic" - meaning it will no longer be an accepted defense to harm another person because of their sexual orientation. "We believe it is the fist LGBTQ-affirming bill to pass both chambers of the legislature unanimously," says Ziri. 

Another measure that passed invites those applying for certain government positions to self-identify as LGBTQ. And the third allows transgender and intersex individuals to change their birth certificate gender-marker without the requirement of surgery.

"Of course there are still challenges that persist and remain. 80% of transgender youth report being mistreated at some time. We know there are significant issues in the realm of healthcare," says Ziri. Still - he says it was a positive year - especially with fears regarding what might take place federally with the new presidential administration.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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