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Campaigners bid to get the EU to ban ‘conversion therapy’ across Europe

Campaigners bid to get the EU to ban ‘conversion therapy’ across Europe

  • The European Commission’s first ever LGBTI+ Strategy will launch tomorrow.
MEP protests Poland's LGBT+ record.

LGBT+ campaigners say the European Union’s first ever LGBTI+ Strategy is the perfect moment to ban ‘conversion therapy’ across Europe.

The European Commission – the EU’s executive branch – will launch the strategy tomorrow.

It is not clear what it will contain. But campaigners hope it may improve the rights of LGBT+ parents and families and guarantee legal recognition to trans’ people’s true genders.

Meanwhile they say it is an opportunity for the EU to tackle ‘conversion therapy’. The attempts to ‘cure’ people’s sexuality or gender identity do not work and can cause serious psychological harm.

Moreover, they hope the commission will withhold funds from countries who persecute LGBT+ people. It recently used this tool to punish regions in Poland that had set up ‘LGBT Free Zones’.

European Commission ‘has a responsibility’ to act

One campaign organization – All Out – is focusing its efforts on seeking EU wide action on ‘conversion therapy’.

So far only two member states – Malta and Germany – have banned the so-called LGBT+ ‘cures’. Meanwhile another 25 EU countries continue to allow them.

Yuri Guaiana, of All Out, said:

‘So-called “conversion therapy” is widely considered to be a cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment that can amount to torture.

‘Taking into consideration the EU’s competence on public health, freedom, security and justice, the commission has a responsibility to act against these harmful practices.’

All Out has gathered over 29,000 signatures, calling on the commission to act.

Guaiana told GSN that the commission should include a call for member states to ban the therapies in the strategy. And it should offer support to help countries bring in a ban more swiftly.

However, he agreed that not all member states will willingly introduce a ban. Therefore, the petition also calls on the EU to introduce its own legislative ban, which would then be binding on EU countries.

His call is matched by one from Maria Walsh MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament. 

She said: ‘So-called “conversion therapy” practices, are nothing short of torture as recognised by international human rights bodies.

‘We hope this strategy will identify concrete actions the EU will take alongside member states to ban them.’

The UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, has also called for a ban.

No EU funds for LGBT+ hate

Meanwhile other politicians on the European LGBT+ intergroup have also expressed their hopes for the new strategy.

Terry Reintke MEP said: ‘The human rights of LGBTI persons have continually been targeted and we have seen recently how governments have politicised them for political gain.

‘[Poland’s] LGBTI-free zones remain a striking example of why we need rule of law conditionality on EU funds, which is now linked to EU values.’

Meanwhile Marc Angel MEP said the strategy should recognize same-sex couples and parents wherever they traveled in Europe.

He said: ‘Our line is clear: “families must remain families” when crossing EU borders. We will push for a strong legislative initiative on this field.’

Asylum, hate speech and students

Likewise, Malin Björk MEP emphasized the plight of LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees.

Björk warned: ‘The current policies increase their vulnerability rather than ensuring a protective environment throughout the asylum process. The credibility of LGBTI+ asylum seekers is systematically questioned and their lives are put at risk.

‘Concepts such as safe third countries and fast track procedures are not designed to deliver for LGBTI+ asylum seekers. In this context, the LGBTI+ strategy must clearly address the rights of LGBTI asylum-seekers.’

And Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP focused on hate speech, commenting:

‘Hate speech and hate crime remain pervasive problems throughout and outside the EU.’

Castaldo noted the EU was about to renew hate crime and hate speech laws and added:

‘Such a legislative proposal must explicitly include the grounds of both sexual orientation and gender identity – this is what we will fight for.’

Finally, Liesje Schreinemacher MEP said: ‘We cannot accept schools and universities discriminating against LGBTI students. Every teaching environment should be inclusive of all students, so as to ensure all of them achieve their full potential.’

Schreinemacher also wants a ban on ‘intersex genital mutilation’ and for the EU to ensure trans people can change legal gender without having to clear ‘pathologizing requirements’.