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Finland to consider conversion therapy ban after overwhelming public demand

Lily Wakefield August 31, 2021
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Pride in Helsinki, 2019. (NurPhoto via Getty/ Antti Yrjonen)

The parliament of Finland will consider a total ban on conversion therapy, after an overwhelming number of Finns signed a citizens’ initiative.

The initiative, which would ban efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of both adults and children, gathered the necessary 50,000 signatures in just one month and is now being referred to parliament.

Perttu Jussila, who launched the initiative, told YLE: “It’s insane that conversion treatments have not been banned yet.

“After all, the regulation of alternative therapies was included in [prime minister Sanna Marin‘s] government’s programme. A couple of years have passed now since the government was established, and nothing has really happened.

“The EU has condemned conversion therapies in its policy, and Malta already banned the treatments in 2016.

“I simply came to the conclusion that the issue wouldn’t be addressed without a citizens’ initiative.”

Jussila said it was vital to ban conversion therapy for adults as well as minors, even if it was legally difficult considering that adults can consent to the debunked treatment.

“It’s hardly the easiest legal issue in the world, but it is not impossible either,” they said.

“Human rights really are a black and white thing. We can’t avoid something because it is difficult.

“Moreover, we have examples from around the world… It’s unfathomable that we can’t manage to do it [in Finland].”

Psychologists in Finland have described conversion therapy as ‘irresponsible and seriously violating human rights’

The pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy has been condemned by all major medical and psychological associations, yet for now, it remains legal in Finland.

Earlier this year, the Finnish Psychological Association released a position statement on conversion therapy, in which it said: “The core values that guide psychology and the work of psychologists include respect for the rights and values of the individual, as well as responsibility, which means strong respect for and promotion of human rights.

“Therefore, the Finnish Psychological Association clearly wants to express its position on conversion therapy as irresponsible and seriously violating human rights, which is in conflict with modern psychology.”

It added: “No psychologist should be involved in implementing or directing conversion therapy, both in healthcare and outside of it.”

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