Germany unveils draft law to ban gay conversion therapy


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Photo: GMF Berlin

Germany’s Health Minister has unveiled a draft law to ban so-called “gay conversion therapy” on children under 18.

“Conversion therapy” refers to debunked and harmful practices to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender identity, using psychological or spiritual means.

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Germany’s draft bill would punish those carrying out conversion therapy on under-18s, or coercing, deceiving or threatening anyone older into such treatment. Punishments include fines or up to a year in prison.

The draft German law states that the risks the therapies pose to people’s health, and the right to determine one’s sexual orientation, outweighed concerns about religious freedom.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, said the practices are misleading and “make you sick, and not healthy.”

“Homosexuality is not a disease. Therefore, even the term ‘therapy’ is misleading,” Spahn told Reuters.

“A ban is also an important social signal to anyone who struggles with their homosexuality: you are okay the way you are.”

The draft law states 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.”

Local experts estimate around 1,000 people in Germany undergo the harmful conversion therapy each year in the country.

A German government spokesperson said a final vote is likely next year.

ACT pledged gay conversion therapy ban at the weekend

Meanwhile, the ACT government in Australia pledged to introduce legislation and other education measures to stamp out the practices.

“Being told you’re broken, can break you,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

“LGBT Canberrans are not sick or unnatural and we do not need to be ‘changed’, ‘cured’, ‘converted’, ‘healed’ or whatever term is used by practitioners [for] harmful and outdated ‘conversion therapy’.

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“It’s time to put an end to this.”

The Victorian Government is also consulting on their proposed conversion therapy ban until November 24.

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