Germany passes ban on gay ‘conversion’ therapy for minors

Berlin Pride via Flickr

Some MPs have called for the ban to go even further.

Germany has become the first major European country to pass a ban on gay ‘conversion’ therapy, something that even the United Kingdom hasn’t managed to do yet.

The law has banned the discredited practice being carried out on people under the age of 18, and groups, including parents, who attempt to force minors into it face up to a year in prison, or a €30,000 (roughly equivalent to £26,000) fine. There will also be penalties if people older than 18 are coerced or deceived into undergoing the practice.

According to figures from the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, around 1,000 people in Germany are subjected to gay ‘conversion’ therapy every year.

MPs from the Green and Left Parties have called for the law to be expanded, and cover people up to 27 years old, but defending the law, Germany’s Health Minister, Jens Spahn, said: “I want a ban which will be robust, including if it’s brought before the courts.

“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.”

© Sebastian Hesse via Flickr

Reuters reports that Green Party legislators wrote: “Only minors are to be protected from this life-endangering charlatanry. 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.”

The ban did receive international praise, with ‘conversion’ therapy survivor and co-founder of Born Perfect, Mathew Shurka, saying: “Germany is the first major European country to protect LGBTQ people from this insidious practice, which is one of the primary drivers of suicide and depression among LGBTQ youth.

“Especially during this time, when many LGBTQ people are feeling more isolated and alone than ever, Germany’s leadership is a powerful example of how governments can stand up for LGBTQ youth.”

Related: Virginia becomes first southern state to ban gay ‘conversion therapy’

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