By passing this bill, Germany joins Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan to become only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy”.

On Thursday, 7 May 2020, the German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a bill banning advertising and perpetuation of “conversion therapy” to minors.

By passing this bill, Germany joins Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan to become only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy”.

So-called “conversion therapy” is the most widely used term to describe practices attempting to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD), a prominent non-governmental LGBTIQ organization, in a statement posted on their website, welcomes the effort to ban these harmful practices but expresses concern that only minors are covered by the important protections of the new bill.

In August 2019, OutRight Action International released a pioneering report – “Harmful Treatment. The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy” – showing that, while such practices vary across religious, cultural, or traditional contexts and range in their forms of psychological and physical violence, they are prevalent in countries across the globe. They have been condemned by most major psychological, psychiatric, and medical associations, including the World Psychiatric Association, and recognized to not only never achieve their intended outcome, but to instead cause deep, lasting trauma.

Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern, comments:
“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. 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. At the same time, demand for “conversion therapy” will only decrease if acceptance of LGBTIQ people grows. I urge authorities in Germany to bolster the legal ban on “conversion therapy” with measures designed to promote understanding and inclusion of LGBTIQ people, thus tackling the root causes of these harmful, inhuman practices.”

International attention on so-called “conversion therapy” has grown in recent months and years. The UN’s Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is working on a report on the topic due to be issued in June. A nationwide ban is pending in Canada; bans are also being considered in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Chile and elsewhere.