Germany bans 'gay conversion therapy' for minors as more nations eye laws

Friday, 8 May 2020 19:33 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A person holds a rainbow flag in front of the the Berlin Victory Column during the annual Gay Pride parade, also called Christopher Street Day parade (CSD), in Berlin, Germany July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

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Conversion therapy persists in other Western democracies, including in the United States, Britain and Australia

By Matthew Lavietes

NEW YORK, May 8 (Openly) - Germany has banned so-called "gay conversion therapy" for minors as a growing number of countries review legislation regarding the controversial practise designed to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual.

German lawmakers voted on Thursday to prohibit so-called "conversion therapies" for anyone aged under 18, but stopped short of an outright ban, with advertising or offering treatment carrying fines of 30,000 Euros ($32,500) or up to one year jail.

The United States, Canada, Chile, and Mexico are among other countries seeking to outlaw the treatment, based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be 'cured', according to LGBT+ advocacy group ILGA.

Advocates say bans spare young people pain and suffering at being harassed and humiliated because of their sexuality, an experience which has led to suicide.

Here is the status of the practice in various locations around the world.

- Conversion therapy is outlawed nationwide in Brazil, Ecuador and Malta.

- There is not a federal ban on conversion therapy in the United States, but over 19 U.S. states, including California, Colorado, New York and Washington, prohibit the practice to some degree.

- About 700,000 Americans have been forced to undergo a form of conversion therapy, according to the University of California's Williams Institute.

- The Australian state of Queensland is considering the country's first conversion therapy ban, with jail sentences of up to 18 months for doctors and social workers.

- The Canadian federal government introduced new legislation in March this year to criminalize conversion therapy. Conversion therapy has been banned in some Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Calgary. Ontario was the first Canadian province to ban the practice in 2015.

- Britain and Ireland have drawn up bills to outlaw conversion therapy but they have stalled.

- While it is illegal in Ecuador, gay people, particularly lesbians, are forced to undergo conversion therapy in secret clinics, campaigners say. Typically admitted to clinics by their families, they are forced to undergo beatings, solitary confinement, force-feeding of medicine and even "corrective rape" aimed at changing their sexual orientation.

- Brutal and extreme conversion methods including torture, forced internment, electroshock therapy and sexual violence have been documented in Ecuador, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and China.

- A fifth of gay, lesbian and bisexual Britons who have tried to change their sexuality have attempted suicide.

Sources: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, the Williams Institute at the University of California, LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in New York, the Ozanne Foundation, and Taller de Comunicacion Mujer of Ecuador

($1 = 0.9227 euros)

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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