The Illinois House of Representatives has rejected a bill which would ban gay conversion therapy.

The Youth Mental Health Protection Act, sponsored by Democrat Kelly Cassidy, was rejected by a vote of 51-44 on Thursday.

It would have banned conversion therapy for those under the age of 18, and proponents had said it would have afforded protection to vulnerable gay youth.

Republican Jeanne Ives told the Chicago Sun-Times that she would vote against the bill.

She said: “This is not stuff we should be legislating on at all. Let people decide for themselves what they need to have for themselves.”

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said: “We will continue to raise the alarm and look for the right moment to seek legislative action to ban the harmful therapy that is opposed by every professional mental health organization in Illinois and the U.S.”

“The debate is not over. The most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, must not be targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate.”