News (World)

Iceland outlaws conversion therapy in landslide vote

Concept photo - Positive attitude of Iceland for LGBT community. Hand with Icelandic flag painted on it giving thumbs up against rainbow flag. Focus set on hand.
Photo: Shutterstock

The Icelandic parliament has unanimously passed a comprehensive conversion therapy ban, prohibiting the practice on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

On Friday, lawmakers approved the legislation with 53 yes votes and three abstentions. Now anyone who forces a child to undergo conversion therapy can go to prison for up to five years, and anyone who tries to force an adult to go faces up to three years. In addition, those who actually administer conversion therapy could go to prison for up to two years.

Icelandic journalist and nonbinary activist Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir tweeted that the bill passed “despite attempts from known anti-trans hates groups under English influence to oppose it, and wrongfully claiming they managed to ‘kill the bill.’ Their arguments were dismissed as anti-scientific and anti-trans rhetoric.”

Conversion therapy is based on the idea that LGBTQ+ identity is a problem to be fixed, which can lead to long-term damage to victims’ self-esteem. A 2013 survey showed that 84 percent of former patients of conversion therapy said it inflicted lasting shame and emotional harm, and another study found that LGBTQ+ people who were forced into conversion therapy had an attempted suicide rate five times above normal.

The United States has a long way to go before all Americans are protected from this brutal practice. According to the Movement Advancement Project, 20 states have no laws banning the practice, and five only have partial bans. Twenty-one states and D.C. do have laws on the books banning conversion therapy for minors.

Iceland is considered one of the world’s most LGBTQ+-friendly countries, scoring 92 out of 100 on the Equaldex Equality Index. Same-sex marriage is legal, as is the ability to change one’s legal gender without surgery. Nonbinary genders are recognized, LGBTQ+ adoption is legal, and there are anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination laws in place.

A 2013 poll of 119 countries also ranked Iceland number 1 for perceived acceptance of gay people, with 82% of respondents saying they believed the country is a “good place” for gays and lesbians. The country also ranks number one of 79 countries for citizens believing homosexuality is justifiable, as well as number one of 74 for positive opinions on same-sex couples as parents.

Editor’s note: This article mentions suicide. If you need to talk to someone now, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. It’s staffed by trans people, for trans people. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Politician punched in face protesting transphobes, says he’d do it again “any day”

Previous article

Megan Fox blasts Republican who accused her of forcing sons to wear “girls’” clothes

Next article