Germany has banned traumatising conversion therapy for people under the age of 18, and introduced penalties for adults, putting the UK and US to shame.
On Thursday evening, May 7, the Bundestag passed a law which completely bans any so-called “therapy” that aims to change the sexual orientation of minors, and the crime will carry a prison sentence of up to one year.
According to Badische, conservative German health minister Jens Spahn stressed: “Homosexuality is not a disease. Therefore the term therapy is misleading.”
Conversion therapy for those of legal age in Germany will also be banned, if a person is subjected to it involuntarily, through coercion, threats or deception. Any advertising for the debunked and traumatising practice has also been banned.
Attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity have been proven to severe impact the mental health of LGBT+ people, increasing anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
A UK survey conducted last year found that one in five people who had been through conversion therapy later attempted suicide.
Another study, published in 2019, found that “transgender people who are exposed to conversion efforts anytime in their lives have more than double the odds of attempting suicide compared with those who have never experienced efforts by professionals to convert their gender identity”.
According to Reuters, health minister Spahn, who is the Christian Democrat party’s most high-profile gay politician, said earlier on Thursday: “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.”
However, the ban does not go far enough for some political parties in Germany. The Green party called for the complete conversion therapy ban to cover young people up to the age of 26.
Green legislators said: “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.”
While Germany’s conversion therapy ban could go further, it puts countries like the US and the UK to shame – while many US states have banned the practice, America has no federal ban on conversion therapy and although all major UK health organisations have denounced the practice as damaging pseudoscience, yet the UK still has not passed a ban on conversion therapy.