German cabinet approves strict ban on gay cure therapy

German Chancellor and leader of the German Christian Democrats Angela Merkel

Germany could be the next country to ban gay cure therapy, after the cabinet greenlit a bill to impose severe restrictions on the practice.

The cabinet signed off on a draft bill on Wednesday morning that will legally outlaw the practice.

The country’s health minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, said in a press conference that the legislation will now be introduced to the lower house, where it will be signed off by MPs.

Law is one of the toughest in the world

The law would impose one of the world’s toughest bans on the practise, outright outlawing conversion therapy for minors, as well as for adults in cases where they have been coerced or deceived into seeking treatment.

It would impose a ban on advertising for offering services to change people’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Practitioners of conversion therapy could face a prison sentence of up to one year, while those who violate the ban on advertising could face fines of €30,000 (£25,500).

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel with health minister Jens Spahn

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel with health minister Jens Spahn. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The law does not only apply to professional practitioners, with a release making clear that parents or legal guardians who attempt to ‘cure’ their children could face punishment for gross violations of their duty of care.

Ecuador, Malta and Taiwan are among the countries to have banned gay ‘cure’ therapy, alongside 18 US states.

However, the proposals in Germany go far beyond the majority of existing laws, which have only sought to restrict therapy for under-18s.

Germany’s health minister: Being gay is not a disease

Speaking to the media, Jens Spahn said: “Homosexuality is not a disease and does not require therapy.

“To those who struggle with their sexual orientation, so-called conversion therapy often brings severe physical and mental suffering. The ban on such ‘treatments’ puts an end to this.

“We hope this will help to send a clear signal, especially to adolescents: Every conversion [attempt] is one too many.”

The minister is Germany’s most senior out politician, and was an unsuccessful contender in the race to succeed the long-serving Chancellor Angela Merkel as the leader of her centre-right CDU party.

The country’s leadership has adopted a proactive pro-LGBT+ stance in recent years, with same-sex marriage introduced in 2017 after Merkel, who had long opposed reforms, opted to allow them to become law.

The UK had launched a review on how to tackle conversion therapy under former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.

However, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson included no commitment on the issue in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.