This article was published on January 8th, 2020
Both Germany and Canada are on track to federally ban conversion therapy and any practices associated with the attempted forced conversion of queer people to “become” straight. Here’s what’s being done in these two countries, and any other countries with similar bans against conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is defined as the psuedo-scientific practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using physiological, spiritual, or spiritual interventions. Practices can range from intense religious study to physiological harassment, punishment, and berating to extreme methods like torture and mutilation.
There is no reliable evidence available that these measures and so-called therapy actually yield any long term results, and most medical and scientific communities agree that there is no way to change someone’s sexual orientation.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation by practitioners is unethical and the APA opposes a psychiatric treatment based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or based up the assumption that a person should change their sexual orientation to conform.
Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent a mandate letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti asking for the Canadian Criminal Code to be amended “to ban the practice of conversion therapy and take other steps required with the provinces and territories to end conversion therapy in Canada.” This follows Vancouver and other regions of Canada that had already banned the practice of conversion therapy.
Meanwhile also in December, Germany became the newest nation to ban gay and transgender conversion therapy after the Government Cabinet approved the measure. This will ban the practice federally in Germany for all children under 18 as well as “vulnerable people with diminished decision-making capabilities” and non-consenting adults. The new law doesn’t go as far as Canada’s, as it will still allow consenting adults to opt into existing conversion therapy practices.
Brazil became the first country in the world to ban conversion therapy in 1999. Ecuador also banned the practice in 1999 by federally banning discrimination against LGBT people. Other countries including China, Taiwan, and South Africa have banned the practice, while areas of Australia, the United States, and Spain have jurisdictions that have banned conversion therapy. Argentina, Fiji, and Samoa have also banned it but are unclear about their specific stances. Ireland and Lebanon have committed to ban the practice.
Canada and Germany will be the newest countries to ban conversion therapy worldwide. Hopefully others will soon follow suit.
Some information needs updating. For example, in Canada bans on conversion therapy include more than sexual orientation, but also gender identity.
Internationally, Malta has a very comprehensive ban and countries such as New Zealand and Australia are also exploring options to prohibit conversion therapy.