Germany has approved a ban on conversion therapy on minors. The legislature passed the ban on Thursday, making Germany the fifth country to ban the practice, after Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan.
Conversation therapy is a discredited, dangerous practice that is designed to turn LGBTQ+ people straight and/or cisgender. It can result in depression, drug abuse, suicidal ideation, and other harmful effects.
Germany’s new law bans the practice on anyone under 18, as well as people ages 18 to 26 if they were subjected to coercion, threats, or deception. The ban also prohibits advertising for conversion therapy.
“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,” said the Federal Health Minister of Germany, Jens Spahn, per Reuters.
Meanwhile, some LGBTQ+ advocates feel that the ban doesn’t go far enough because it only bans conversion therapy for minors under 18, while “youth” could be considered to extend to age 26.
Spahn, who is gay, said that the law had to be able to withstand legal challenges. “I want a ban which will be robust, including if it’s brought before the courts,” he said.
In the United States, 20 states have banned conversion therapy on minors along with over 70 cities and counties. Germany is the first major European country to ban the practice. Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the country is setting an important precedent.
“Germany is setting a new international standard for protecting LGBTQ youth and for recognizing conversion therapy for what it is — a public health crisis that is devastating the lives of LGBTQ young people,” Minter said in a press release. “Germany’s leadership on this issue is groundbreaking and will set an example for other countries to follow.”
The ban is expected to be signed by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.