Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday that the country’s cabinet has approved a draft bill banning conversion therapy for minors. Next the bill will go to the German Parliament.
Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has widely been rejected as no scientific data exists that proves the “therapy” works. The Human Rights Campaign views conversion therapy as “dangerous and discredited”.
Steffen Seibert, a government spokesperson, stated about the bill, “The government’s goal is to protect people’s right to sexual self-determination.” He additionally explained that Germany has also banned conversion therapy for adults with diminished decision-making capacities and has outlawed advertising conversion therapy.
Individuals who do not adhere to the new laws could face up to a year in prison and €30,000 in fines.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said of the new legislation, “A ban is also an important sign for all those struggling with their sexuality: it is okay to be as you are.” Spahn additionally remarked, “Homosexuality is not an illness, therefore the word ‘therapy’ is already misleading. This so-called therapy makes people sick instead of well.”
If the legislation passes, Germany will become the second country in the European Union to ban conversion therapy nationwide.
As with many governments that have outlawed forms of conversion therapy, it will remain legal in Germany for consenting and able adults to participate. The German government has made clear however that there is no scientific data that supports conversion therapy being “successful” and the practice is often damaging to the individual going through it.
Earlier this year Puerto Rico also banned conversion therapy for minors. In the U.S. 18 states have partial bans on conversion therapy practices.
What laws exist around conversion therapy in your area? What resources and supports for LGBTQ+ people exist?