Belgium plans conversion therapy ban for all LGBTQ+ people to ‘protect victims’

Belgium to finally ban conversion therapy putting the UK to shame

Belgium’s state secretary for gender equality, equal opportunity and diversity, Sarah Schlitz, has confirmed the country’s government plans to ban conversion therapy entirely by early next year.

Conversion therapy refers to any from of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress their gender identity, based on the notion that being LGBTQ+ is a mental illness that can be “cured”.   

Schlitz told PinkNews that the ban of conversion practices has been voted for by the Minister’s Council of the Belgian Government.

It must now be voted for in the Belgian Parliament, in early 2023, and if successful the ban will then be immediately implemented.

Belgium is a pioneer in the field of #LGBTQIA+ rights,” Schlitz told PinkNews.

“Numerous legislative reforms and social efforts bear witness to this, but a ban [on conversion practices] was sadly missing from our legislative arsenal.”

Should conversion practice be carried out in Belgium it would be punishable by imprisonment from one month to two years and/or a fine of between €100 to €300.

People convicted of conversion practices will be prevented from carrying out professional or social activity related to the commission of the offences for a maximum of five years, The Brussels Times reported. 

“The ability to be oneself and the freedom to live as one wishes is a fundamental principle of our society that must not be compromised under any circumstances,” Schlitz added.

“This ban is a strong act to protect victims from this symbolic, psychological and sometimes physical violence. It is also a signal to the rest of society that those who are not ill should not be treated.”

Will the UK ban conversion therapy?

In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have concluded the harmful and unethical “therapy” is dangerous. 

Disappointingly, minister for women and equalities, Kemi Badenoch, reportedly paused work on a conversion therapy ban across the UK. 

It follows the UK government first promising to ban conversion therapy in 2018, almost half a decade ago, under Theresa May’s leadership.

However, a charter calling for all UK medical schools to condemn the use of and support the banning of “so-called LGBTQ+ conversion therapy” has reassuringly been signed by the majority of medical schools in the UK.