Germany to ban gay conversion therapy
Germany is set to ban conversion therapy after its Cabinet approved a draft bill that will be presented to its parliament.
However, if the bill is approved by both houses of parliament, it is only advertising or offering conversion therapy that will be banned. Offenders of this law will be fined up to €30,000 ($33,000).
If the bill passes, Germany would become the first major European power to outlaw the method. However, they would become the second European country to ban it as Malta did so in 2016.
Germany moving against conversion therapy
The debunked conversion therapy targets transgender and gay people to change their sexual orientation. Techniques include hypnotism, aversive conditioning, and electro-shock treatment
An estimated 2,000 conversion therapies happen in Germany every year, according to Germany health minister Jens Spahn, who added that this was: “2,000 too many.”
“Homosexuality is not an illness, therefore the word ‘therapy’ is already misleading. This so-called therapy makes people sick instead of well,” Spahn, who is openly gay, said.
Under the proposed ban, only adults who freely seek out the controversial therapy will be legally permitted to under go the process.
Protecting German LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy
This is because the bill was amended to include banning the practice on 16- to 18-year olds.
The previous draft had allowed the practice on them if the practitioner could prove the patient understood the implications and risks.
Parents or caregivers who force 16- and 18-year olds to undergo the therapy will be punished under the bill.
“Previously there were exceptions for adolescents. We got rid of this because it was exactly between these ages that most people undergo this practice,” Spahn said.
This was “much too dangerous for body and soul for that gray area to continue to be permitted,” he added.
Pushing for a conversion therapy-free Germany
However, Bärbel Bas, the chair of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) parliamentary faction, wanted the bill to be pushed further.
Bas said, “I wish to see a comprehensive ban for the so-called conversion therapy for adults, however, this would be difficult to implement legally.”
Spahn said: “A ban is also an important sign for all those struggling with their sexuality: it is ok to be as you are.”
Berlin-based Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation said an estimated 1,000 people are subjected to conversion therapy every year in Germany.
In the US, 18 states and DC have laws prohibiting the practice. Utah is set to become the 19th.