Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a legislative package on July 27 at Center on Halsted that, effective immediately ends the decades-long law criminalizing HIV transmission in Illinois.
Illinois is now the second such state to repeal its HIV criminalization law. LGBTQ- and HIV/AIDS-rights activists have long sought elimination of laws instigating penalties for transmission of HIV, maintaining that such laws only serve to stifle testing and treatment, and add to a societal stigma against persons living with the infection. The bill, HB 1063, was sponsored in the in the Senate by state Sen. Robert Peters and in the House by state Rep. Carol Ammons.
Prior to the signing, Pritzker said that his administration was "on a mission" to uplift marginalized state residents.
"I have imagined that Illinois can become a beacon of hope for the National LGBTQ community, and we have succeeded at it," Pritzker said. "…Today our success continues."
The July 27 package also contained bills that ease financial barriers from insurers for LGBTQ couples seeking fertility treatments, and implements a statewide standard for addressing name changes on marriage certificates. A new bill also allows already-married couples to gendered-language on their certificates.
Tim Jacksondirector of government relations for AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), speaking on behalf of Illinois HIV Action Alliancecalled the signing of HB 1063 "a seismic sea change in addressing the HIV epidemic in Illinois" while speaking at the July 27 signing ceremony. Jackson, who is living with HIV, added, "With the stroke of the governor's pen today, people living with HIV can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our medical condition will no longer be criminalized."
"The criminalization of HIV does not line up with current science," Peters added in a July 27 statement. "These laws are outdated, dangerous, and discriminatory, and have no place in modern society. Starting today, individuals who are living with this difficult medical condition will no longer have to worry about experiencing legal consequences for simply living their lives."
State Rep. Margaret Croke discussed HB 3709, which updates Illinois' existing infertility insurance law to include LGBTQ families and single parents, and reduces waiting-periods for women over 35.
Croke, the bill's primary sponsor, said that existing rules included a definition of "fertility" that placed dreams of having children "financially out of reach" for LGBTQ families. She added that the rules, as written, were "so cruel I couldn't not do anything about it."
State Rep. Ann Williams also spoke about HB 2590, which she sponsored and which "creates a uniform standard that county clerks must adhere to for name changes on marriage certificates," and SB 139, which "establishes a process for individuals to correct the gendered language on their marriage certificates."
Language on official documents "should accurately reflect who you are," Williams said. The changes, she added, "are incredibly significant to those they impact."
State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz praised the governor and credited him with "being on the same page" as the LGBTQ community long before he held elected office. Noting that numerous states are pushing through laws that further marginalize their LGBTQ residents, Illinois was able to put through a significant package of pro-LGBTQ legislation.
"It is amazing that all of these laws passed the same year that they were proposed," Feigenholtz said.