News (World)

Germany just banned ex-gay therapy. Some lawmakers want the new law to go further.

Germany, ex-gay therapy ban
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Photo: Shutterstock

On Thursday, the German parliament (the Bundestag) passed a ban on ex-gay therapy for minors, punishing anyone who offers the widely debunked practice of psychological torture with one year in prison or a fine of $32,000, but one political party wants the ban to go even further.

The law forbids the use or advertisement of any therapy that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity for minors.

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“Homosexuality is not a disease. Therefore the term therapy is misleading,” German health minister Jens Spahn, who is also a gay man, said in a statement.

“Young people are being forced into conversion therapies and so it is very important that they should find support in the existence of this law: a clear signal that the state does not want this to happen,” Spahn continued.

“I want a ban which will be robust, including if it’s brought before the courts.

The local Green Party wants the law to go further by banning the practice for anyone up to 26 years of age. The Left Party wants that age to be 27.

“At the very least young people aged between 18 and 26 need comparable protection, as is shown by the experiences of coming-out and many young people’s dependence on their families,” the party said in a statement.

Malta, Taiwan, Ecuador, and Brazil have all banned conversion therapy for minors as well. Canada is currently considering a nationwide ban on ex-gay therapy too.

The actual methods of ex-gay therapy are shady and questionable. They include telling people not to masturbate, to rigorously exercise, and study the Bible. They use “covert aversion” (making LGBTQ identity seem dangerous, unhealthy, and repulsive) and “reframing of desire” onto “heterosexual surrogates” (re-directing sexual desire onto opposite-sex partners).

Other methods include not shaking hands with anyone of the same gender, beating a pillow, cuddling with another man “platonically,” and not listening to music.

A 2013 survey showed that 84 percent of former patients who tried ex-gay therapy said it inflicted lasting shame and emotional harm. Numerous conversion therapy advocates have later come out as still gay and apologized for the harm that conversion therapy causes.

The ban now requires the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before going into effect.

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