Germany passes legislation banning gay conversion therapy for minors

Germany passes legislation banning gay conversion therapy for minors
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Germany’s Parliament on Thursday passed a law banning gay conversion therapy for minors.

The legislation from the Bundestag is intended to stop groups from offering services which claim to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through dubious therapy practices, BBC reported.

Those found breaking the law can face up to a year n prison or a 30,000 euro fine (approximately $34,535.)

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Parents and legal guardians who make their children take part in such practices through deception, coercion or threats could also be punished under the law.

Experts warn that the practice of conversion therapy can have harmful psychological impacts on LGBTQ teenagers.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, said the bill was necessary to protect young people who were forced to participate in the so-called treatment.

"They should feel strengthened when the state, when society, when Parliament makes it clear: We do not want that in this country," Spahn said, according to the BBC.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in December threw support behind the ban.

“The government’s goal is to protect people’s right to sexual self-determination,” her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said. 

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Around 1,000 people are subjected to conversion therapy in Germany every year, according to the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation.

Germany becomes the fifth county in the world to ban conversion therapy, joining Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan, according to a global LGBTQ advocacy group called OutRight Action International.

“So-called conversion therapy efforts are based on the belief that cis-gender heterosexuality is the norm, and transgender identities and same-sex attraction not only fall outside the norm, but have to be changed, if need be by brutal, inhuman force,” Executive Director Jessica Stern said in a statement. “The German Bundestag took an incredibly important step today - by banning 'conversion therapy' it sent a powerful message that LGBTIQ people are not in need of change or cure.”

Eighteen U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have laws or regulations "protecting youth from this harmful practice," the Human Rights Campaign says.