Germany Looks to Become First Major European Power to Ban Conversion Therapy

Violators of the proposed law could face up to one year in prison.

Germany has moved closer to becoming the first major European power to ban conversion therapy.

On Wednesday, the cabinet backed a law parliament is expected to pass this summer that would punish those who try to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity through the debunked practice with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 30,000 euros ($33,100), Reuters reports.

“Homosexuality is not an illness. So the term therapy in itself is misleading,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a statement. “This alleged therapy makes you sick and not healthy.”

“A ban is also an important sign for all those struggling with their sexuality: it is ok to be as you are,” Spahn added.

According to the Berlin-based Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, an estimated 1,000 people are subjected to conversion therapy every year in Germany. If the legislation passes, Germany would become only the second European country to ban it, following in the footsteps of Malta, which did so in 2016.

Under the new law, the practice would be banned outright for minors, and would also be illegal when conducted on adults against their will, such as through threats or force, The Local reports. Additionally, parents and teachers could be liable if ruled to have neglected their duty of care.

Other countries considering banning conversion therapy include Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Currently, 18 states and D.C. have laws prohibiting the practice, with Utah set to become the 19th.

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