Germany voted to ban conversion therapy — a harmful practice that aims to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity — for LGBTQ+ minors on May 7, becoming the fifth country to pass such a ban, after Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan.
The new law prohibits the advertisement and practice of conversion therapy on people under the age of 18, according to NBC Out.
Those who violate the law could face up to one year in jail and a fine of more than $32,000.
“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,” Germany’s Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a statement.
Before the ban, around 1,000 teenagers were subjected to conversion therapy in Germany every year. Nearly two-thirds of those who have undergone conversion therapy across the globe were either forced or coerced.
Not only is conversion therapy widely debunked, but it can also cause severe physical and psychological harm and places LGBTQ+ youth at a greater risk of depression and suicide. Some practices of conversion therapy include electric shock treatments, hypnosis, prayer, and physically painful stimuli.
LGBTQ+ youth who undergo conversion therapy are also more likely to end up homeless or living below the poverty line. Gay and transgender people who experience discrimination and mistreatment around the world face heightened economic disparity and food insecurity, according to a 2018 LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative report.
"It's long past time for more countries to enact nationwide protections against the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called 'conversion therapy' in order to ensure the health and well-being of LGBTQ people everywhere,” Human Rights Campaign Director of Global Partnerships Jean Freedberg told Global Citizen.
“It is good news that Germany has passed protections against this practice, but there need to be more than five countries around the world that do so. No one should have to face the damaging effects of conversion therapy. It is time to put an end to a practice that has caused great damage to LGBTQ people all over the world."