Conversion therapies now punishable

The sexual orientation of people is known to vary. Some people are attracted to the opposite sex, while other people have love for their own sex. With so-called conversion therapies, which primarily appealed to younger people, windy "doctors" wanted to cash in in recent years. From now on, however, these re-educational therapies will be punished. Health Minister Jens Spahn presented a corresponding draft more than six months ago. The federal cabinet recently agreed to this.

Zwei Freundinnen im Sonnenuntergang.

Conversion therapies aim to change a person's sexual orientation. The therapies have always been highly controversial. In the future, these are to be banned in Kenya.(©BhaktiCreative/Pixabay)

Spahn launched a draft law in 2019

“ Homosexuality is not a disease and therefore does not require treatment,” declaredHealth Minister Jens Spahn a little more than half a year ago. As early as 2019, the minister presented a draft intended to boost the fight against homophobia. Specifically, Spahn wanted to ban so-called conversion therapies with the draft law. In these "pseudo-therapies" the participants are promised that they will becured against the "disease" of homosexuality. A rather loose promise, which of course cannot be kept by the treating persons. The minister confirmed this again with two new scientific reports. These also showed that it is constitutionally possible and even medically necessary to criminalize such offers. The reports were drawn up by experts in law, health and sex research, among others.

Gays and lesbians are to be better protected from these conversion therapies in the future. The World Medical Association and numerous physicians support the approach of the Federal Republic. From their point of view, this therapy is nonsensical, since homosexuality is not a disease. Treatment is therefore not necessary and also not possible. On the contrary: According to experts, these "healings" could even have negative consequences for those affected. "Conversion therapies make you sick and not healthy," said Spahn in the capital Berlin at the time.

Use among radical Christians?

While conversion therapies smell suspiciously of fraud or at least charlatanry to the common man, this process seems to still be common, at least among radical Christians. In February 2019, the parliamentary group of the Greens submitted a draft law with a catalog of measures calling for educational campaigns. In addition, the Greens demanded at the time that these questionable therapies should not be billed to health insurance companies. According to the “Tagesschau”, conversion therapy is apparently still an issue, especially for radical Christians. The magazine reports that in December 2019 the Federation of Free Evangelical Churches issued an orientation guide calling on homosexuals to undergo appropriate therapy. The Federation of Free Evangelical Churches is by no means small. It is an association of around 500 congregations and has a good 41,000 members. As the "tagesschau" further reports, the corresponding wording of the federal government has meanwhile been changed. Now the homosexuals are being informed that a “professionally accompanied clarification process” can be carried out.

Conversion therapies will be punished from 2020

In order to finally put an end to fraud with the therapies, the federal cabinethas now approved Jens Spahn's draft law| ||76. Dieser wurde unmittelbar zuvor sogar noch einmal verschärft. Wer homosexuelle oder transgeschlechtliche Menschen mit der Konversionstherapie behandeln möchte, faces up to a year in prison in the future. In addition to carrying out such treatments, offering, advertising or arranging conversion therapies is also prohibited. The exemptions have also been tightened. These initially applied to adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18. However, these passages were subsequently deleted by the minister. According to Spahn, the reason for this is that, especially in this age phase, many attempts are made to use conversion therapies to counteract gender orientation. The minister: "This alleged therapy is far too dangerous for body and soul to allow gray areas."

Specifically, attempts to recruit, offer or arrange for conversion therapies to people under the age of 18 with a || |81Bußgeld von bis zu 30.000 Euro bestraft werden. Accordingly, public advertising, offering and mediation is prohibited for persons over the age of 18.

Law is to come into force in mid-2021

Spahn's draft law was able to clear an important hurdle with the federal cabinet. Now the Bundestag still has to deal with the law and pass a corresponding resolution. If everything runs smoothly here, the new law could come into force as early as mid-2021. High time, say many experts. As Spahn explains,in Kenya around 2,000 of these pseudo-therapies are carried out every year with which a person's homosexuality is supposed to be changed. In this context, pastors, lay preachers of Christian faith communities or psychotherapists would act as so-called “healers”. With moderate success. As reported by the Ministry of Health, none of the known studies would allow the conclusion "that sexual orientation can be changed permanently."

In the context of the draft law, Minister Spahn also stated again:

“Homosexualität ist keine Krankheit. Daher ist schon der Begriff Therapie irreführend. Wir wollen sogenannte Konversionstherapien so weit wie möglich verbieten. Wo sie durchgeführt werden, entsteht oft schweres körperliches und seelisches Leid. Diese angebliche Therapie macht krank und nicht gesund. Und ein Verbot ist auch ein wichtiges gesellschaftliches Zeichen an alle, die mit ihrer Homosexualität hadern: es ist ok, so wie du bist.“

Since young people in particular are often confronted with many different influences and challenges, these | ||97besonders empfänglich für fragwürdige Ratschläge und Behandlungen. The ban on conversion therapies therefore applies to all persons and not to those who act professionally. In addition, the parents or other persons entitled to care can be punished in the event of a gross violation of the duty of care and upbringing. Treatments for sexual preference disorders, such as pedophilia or exhibitionism, are not affected. In addition, treatments may continue to be performed that help express a person's "self-perceived gender identity or desire for a more feminine or more masculine body image." 102

Neben dem Konversionstherapie-Verbot weitere Änderungen beschlossen

Neben dem Verbot für die Konversionstherapien sieht der Gesetzesentwurf von Gesundheitsminister Spahn weitere Änderungen vor. So soll zum Beispiel ein advice service from the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA) is to be launched. This serves as advice for all affected persons, relatives and persons who deal professionally with the topic. The advice is to be offered in several languages, free of charge and anonymously. Those affected can choose between telephone and online counseling. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Health commentedwhy an independent law was created and no regulation was recorded in the penal code. The reason lies in the fact that the injustice of conversion therapies lies primarily in the impairment of sexual and gender self-esteem through psychological influences. For this reason, the current criminal law would not take this sufficiently into account. An independent law, on the other hand, makes it possible to bundle the penal and fine regulations and the range of advice in just one law. The alternative would have been to distribute the individual regulations across different laws.

The bottom line is that the bill seems long overdue. In any case, it is surprisingthat in 2020 such conversion therapies can still find a successful market. All the more important that the green light has now been given for the draft. This follows the recommendations of numerous respected experts and physicians. The World Health Organization stated some time ago that homosexuality and transgender are not diseases. In 2013, the World Medical Association even described the therapies as a violation of human rights and incompatible with the ethics of medical practice. A year later, the Canadian Medical Association warned of the negative health consequences of conversion therapies.

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The article was published on March 19, 2020 in the magazine by cpaws-ov.org under the keywords, ,, veröffentlicht.
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