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Germany’s Bundestag approves ban on ‘conversion therapy’

On 7 May 2020, the German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a bill banning advertising and perpetration of “conversion therapy” to minors. By passing this bill, Germany joins Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan to become only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy”.

Photo by Christian Lue from Unsplash.com

On 7 May 2020, the German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a bill banning advertising and perpetration of “conversion therapy” to minors. By passing this bill, Germany joins Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan to become only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy”. 

“Conversion therapy” is the most widely-used term to describe practices attempting to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities.

The harm done by “conversion therapy” has been well-documented. In 2019, for instance, a study found that reported exposure to conversion efforts before the age of 10 was walso associated with greater lifetime odds of suicide attempts.

 The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD), a prominent non-governmental LGBTIQ organization, in a statement posted on their website, welcomes the effort to ban these harmful practices, but expresses concern that only minors are covered by the important protections of the new bill.

In August 2019, OutRight Action International released a report  – “Harmful Treatment. The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy” – showing that, while such practices vary across religious, cultural, or traditional contexts and range in their forms of psychological and physical violence, they are prevalent in countries across the globe. They have been condemned by most major psychological, psychiatric, and medical associations, including the World Psychiatric Association, and recognized to not only never achieve their intended outcome, but to instead cause deep, lasting trauma. 

International attention on so-called “conversion therapy” has grown in recent months and years. The UN’s Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is working on a report on the topic due to be issued in June. A nationwide ban is pending in Canada; bans are also being considered in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Chile and elsewhere.

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