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Germany unveils new law banning traumatising conversion therapy for minors

Vic Parsons November 4, 2019

The Christopher Street Day gay pride parade in Berlin, 2019. (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

A new draft law in Germany will ban so-called conversion therapy for under 18s and could impose jail time on perpetrators of the traumatising practice.

German health minister Jens Spahn said the law will tell LGBT+ youths that “you’re OK just as you are”.

The law stops short of a complete ban, with consenting adults permitted to seek “treatment” for their sexuality under restricted circumstances.

But this would be illegal in cases where the adult had consented to therapy following deception, coercion or threat.

There would also be an exemption for 16- to 18-year-olds, if the practitioner can prove that the patient has the ability to understand the implications and risks of the treatment.

The new law would impose a year in prison and an unspecified fine on anyone breaking these conditions.

Spahn, who is gay, said that being LGBT+ is “not a disease” and shouldn’t be treated like one.

“A ban also sends an important societal signal to all those who are struggling with their homosexuality: ‘You’re OK just as you are,'” he said.

There are approximately 1,000 cases of the so-called therapy every year in Germany, which is carried out by religious leaders as well as psychotherapists.

So-called conversion therapy involves electroshock therapy and aversive conditioning techniques to try to repress a person’s sexuality, and is often used on children and teenagers.

Medical professionals consider the practice to be mentally abusive. People who’ve gone through it experience anxiety, depression and a higher risk of suicide.

The therapy is also not effective as being gay is not a disease that can be “cured”.

Conversion therapy is also used on transgender people to try to convert them to being cisgender.

Research this year found that nearly 200,000 trans people in the US have been through conversion therapy, which experts called “unethical” and “ineffective”.

 

 

More: gay conversion therapy, Germany, Jens Spahn

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