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Germany becomes the fifth country in the world to ban conversion therapy

Germany becomes the fifth country in the world to ban conversion therapy

  • So called ‘gay cures’ are dangerous and do not work.
German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Germany has become the fifth country in the world to ban ‘conversion therapy’ of LGBT+ minors.

The new vote in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, confirms a ban which the German government imposed in December last year.

Under the ban, it is illegal to carry out ‘conversion therapy’ on anyone under 18. The law also forbids advertising the so-called ‘cures’.

Furthermore, it is also illegal to force, trick or pressure an adult into conversion therapy.

That additional protection for adults could prove more significant than it may seem at first glance.

A report by OutRight Action International in 2019 found only a third of people who go through the ‘reparative therapy’ seek it out themselves. Two-thirds say their family, faith group or others forced or pressured them into it.

Leading national and international psychological and psychiatric bodies have long condemned the so-called ‘cures’ to turn gay or bi people straight. They say they never work and can be dangerous, causing serious, long-term trauma and harming society.

‘Young people are being forced into conversion therapies’

German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn emphasised the importance of the new law. He said:

‘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.’

Indeed, some members of Germany’s left-wing opposition felt it didn’t go far enough. They declined to support the measure because it only included people who are 18 or under. Instead they wanted it to also cover the ‘youth’ social category – people aged 19 to 26.

Likewise the prominent LGBT+ organization the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany (LSVD) expressed similar concerns. In a statement on its site, it said (translated):

‘For an effective ban, the LSVD calls for the introduction of a minimum age of protection of at least 26 years.’

It also called for punishment of children’s parents and guardians if they participate in the ‘therapies’.

And it objected to the law calling the pseudo-therapies as ‘treatment’.

It said: ‘The concept of treatment has a positive connotation and suggests a promise of healing and an achievable treatment goal.

‘What is more serious, however, is that it remains unclear whether this includes measures … such as exorcism or psychological manipulation.’

Finally, the LSVD wants religious bodies to warn against the so-called ‘cures’. And it wants schools to teach about the issue. It argues this will better protect children and young people.

Conversion therapy bans around the world

However, the new law still makes Germany a world leader on the issue.

Currently Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan are the only other countries to have a similar ban. Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and Chile are all considering national bans.

However, there are partial, de-facto or regional bans in countries including China, Switzerland and Spain. 

Meanwhile there are bans in 20 US states: New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, Utah and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.