Germany’s parliament has passed a law banning so-called “gay conversion therapy” for children with big penalties attached.
“Conversion therapy” refers to debunked and harmful practices to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation, using psychological or spiritual means.
Germany’s legislation, passed through the Bundestag this week, intends to stop groups advertising or offering the practices to children under 18.
Parents and guardians would also face punishment if they use deception, coercion or threats to put their children through the practices.
Anyone breaking the law can face up to a year in prison, or a €30,000 ($59,000 AUD) fine.
Germany’s law declares the practices “are associated with significant risks of depression, anxiety or loss of sexual feelings.”
“The suicide risk of participants in so-called conversion therapies increases significantly.”
Germany conversion therapy bill should go further
Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, has said “the term ‘therapy’ is misleading [because] homosexuality is not a disease.”
“Young people are being forced into conversion therapies,” he said, according to Reuters.
“It is very important that they should find support in the existence of this law. It is a clear signal that the state does not want this to happen.”
However, critics of the German government’s bill argued it should go further.
Germany’s opposition Green Party wanted the upper age limit to be raised to 26.
German LGBTIQ group Der Lesben und Schwulenverband (LSVD) also argued for a higher age limit.
Spahn told Reuters he wanted the ban to hold up in court if challenged.
Local experts estimate around 1,000 people in Germany undergo the harmful conversion therapy each year in the country.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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