Germany moves to ban gay ‘conversion therapies’

by Michael Nienaber
December 18, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany moved a step closer to banning so-called gay “conversion therapies” on Wednesday, as the cabinet backed a law that would punish bogus practitioners with up to a year in prison.

Activists hailed the move, saying Germany would become the first major European power to outlaw attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation with techniques including hypnotism and electro-shock treatment.

“Homosexuality is not an illness. So the term therapy in itself is misleading,” Health Minister Jens Spahn – a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats – said in a statement.

The treatments – sometimes carried out by relatives or religious counselors – caused severe mental and physical harm, he added. “This alleged therapy makes you sick and not healthy,” Spahn said.

The legislation, which parliament is expected to pass by the summer, will punish violations with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 30,000 euros ($33,100).

An estimated 1,000 people are subjected to “conversion therapies” every year in Germany, according to the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, a Berlin-based organization that fights discrimination.

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