Germany Bans Conversion Therapy For Minors In Historic Ruling
Germany has made the historic decision to ban so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’ for minors in the country.
The controversial practice is already outlawed in Switzerland and areas of Australia, Canada and the US, and now anyone found to be offering the ‘therapy’ to those under the age of 18 in Germany could face up to a year in prison, or a €30,000 (£26,268) fine.
The decision comes almost a year after German Health Minister Jens Spahn first announced plans to ban the practice last June. A bill was drafted in November and the law was finally passed yesterday evening, May 7.
‘Conversion therapy’ claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation, though there is no scientific basis for the practice. ‘Treatments’ are used on LGBTQ+ people and can include hypnosis and electric shocks.
Berlin-based human rights organisation the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation found around 1,000 people are subjected to conversion therapy in Germany every year, and research cited by the BBC suggests it can lead to depression and increase the risk of suicide in those subjected to it.
Advocates say laws prohibiting the practice help prevent young LGBTQ+ people from being harassed and humiliated because of their sexuality.
The new law will prevent minors from taking part in medical interventions aimed at changing or suppressing their sexual orientation or gender identity, and any adults found to be making their children take part through deception, coercion or threats can be charged with violating their duty of care.
Spahn said a robust law was needed to protect cases from being challenged in court, adding:
Young people are being forced into conversation 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.
Homosexuality is not an illness. Therefore the term ‘therapy’ is already misleading.
Though the law is a step in the right direction in terms of LGBTQ+ recognition and rights, critics have argued it is not enough. Germany’s opposition Green Party has called for the age limit to be raised to 26, rather than 18, while the Left Party wants it to be 27.
According to The Independent, the Green Party commented:
Only minors are to be protected from this life-endangering charlatantry. At the very least, young people aged between 18 and 26 need comparable protection, as is shown by the experiences of coming out and many young people’s dependence on their families.
Hopefully the historic law protecting minors will simply be the jumping off point when it comes to the practise.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]