Germany’s Parliament just took a major step to protect LGBTQ youth.
Last week, German lawmakers passed legislation banning gay conversion therapy for minors nationwide. Those who break the law face up to a year in prison or a fine of €30,000 (more than $32,000 USD), BBC News reports. Parents and legal guardians can also be penalized for subjecting their children to the harmful practice with threats or coercion.
The legislation was championed by German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is openly gay. Although the new law only protects Germans under the age of 18, Spahn maintained that its limited scope makes the “robust” ban stronger in the face of potential court challenges.
“[LGBTQ youth] should feel strengthened when the state, when society, when Parliament makes it clear: We do not want that in this country,” Spahn said, according to BBC News.
Conversion therapy has faced increased scrutiny in recent years, with reports from medical professionals and LGBTQ advocates alike warning of its traumatizing and potentially deadly psychological effects. In the U.S., the widely debunked practice is currently illegal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
In a media statement, The Trevor Project, America’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, praised Germany’s Parliament for advancing the new law.
“Research in the United States has shown conversion therapy to increase the risk of suicidal ideation and other negative mental health outcomes among LGBTQ youth,” said Sam Brinton, the group’s vice president of advocacy and government. “According to The Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey, LGBTQ youth who had undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who have not. Germany’s bold action will save lives and send a message to LGBTQ young people around the world that they deserve love, respect, and support.”