'Conversion' therapy on minors banned in Germany

The incredibly harmful practice was banned in Germany yesterday for all people under the age of 18.

Two rainbow flags touching in the sky

Germany has banned ‘conversion’ therapy for people under the age of 18. The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, passed a law totally prohibiting any type of ‘therapy’ which tries to alter a minor’s sexual orientation. Those found guilty of doing so could face a prison sentence of up to one year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet had previously endorsed the law back in December. Minister for Health Jens Spahn spoke out against the harmful practice. “Homosexuality is not a disease,” he said. “Therefore the term therapy is misleading.”

That said, some LGBT+ people have argued the law does not go far enough. Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association wanted a total ban on conversion therapy for people up to the age of 26 according to the newspaper Badische Neueste Nachrichten.

However, Spahn said he wanted to make a law that was written to withstand any legal challenges brought against it. “I want a ban which will be robust, including if it’s brought before the courts,” Spahn told Reuters.

“German law makes it easier to protect minors, whereas freedom of speech and conscience laws may confuse the issue for those above 18. Young people are being forced into conversion therapies and so it is very important that they should find support in the existence of this law: a clear signal that the state does not want this to happen.”

The law does extend beyond just minors though. It has also been made illegal for a person to be involuntarily subjected to conversion therapy, whether that’s through deception, coercion or threats.

Germany has now become the fifth country in the world to have banned conversion therapy in some form- joining Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan. A similar ban is currently being considered in Canada and it’s also illegal in 20 US states.

Following a groundbreaking report on survivors of such ‘therapy’, Co-Secretaries General of ILGA World, Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown shared the statement, “For centuries, we have been told we need to be mended, to be changed, to be moulded to fit a binary. From a very early age, many of us come to internalise that something about them needs to be silenced.

“Attempts to turn us into people we are not are still being imposed onto us in the name of religion, culture, science and even out of ill-informed good intentions. Too many lives have been ruined, or ended, and many more will be if we don’t act now.”

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