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Germany bans gay 'conversion' therapy for minors

It is just the world's fifth country to issue a nationwide ban on the abusive practice.

2020-05-08

Germany has banned gay 'conversion' therapy for minors, in another huge step in ending the abusive practice.

The German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a bill outlawing services which claim to change seuxal orientation for under-18s on Thursday (7 May).

Those breaking the new law can face up to a year in prison, or a €30,000 (£26,268) fine, the BBC reports.

The move makes Germany the world's fifth country to outlaw gay 'conversion' therapy for minors at a nationwide level after similar bans were introduced in Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan.

The practice is also outlawed in certain Australian, Canadian and the US state.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, said of the news: "[LGBTQ youth] should feel strengthened when the state, when society, when Parliament makes it clear: we do not want that in this country."

LGBTQ rights groups have welcomed the ban, but urged the German government to continue efforts to tackle the homophobia that leads to gay 'conversion' practices.

Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern, said in a statement: “So-called conversion therapy efforts are based on the belief that cis-gender heterosexuality is the norm, and transgender identities and same-sex attraction not only fall outside the norm, but have to be changed, if need be by brutal, inhuman force.

"The German Bundestag took an incredibly important step today - by banning 'conversion therapy' it sent a powerful message that LGBTIQ people are not in need of change or cure. At the same time, demand for “conversion therapy” will only decrease if acceptance of LGBTIQ people grows.

"I urge authorities in Germany to bolster the legal ban on 'conversion therapy' with measures designed to promote understanding and inclusion of LGBTIQ people, thus tackling the root causes of these harmful, inhuman practices.”

While the UK bans NHS practioners from referring patients to services offering gay 'conversion' therapy to minors, the practice itself remains legal.

Earlier this year, Equalities Minister Baroness Williams said the UK government was focused on "ending" gay 'conversion' therapy rather than simply banning it.

Speaking to the Government Equalities Office LGBT Leadership Summit in February, Baroness Williams said: “It's far more complex than we first thought. It comes from different sources. It can be cultural, it can be faith-based, it can be health-based.

"Banning it means it still exists, ending it means it does not exist any more."